Last week we had two world leaders in ‘discipleship movements’ visit our city, viz. Jim Yost (whose only session I missed) and Floyd McClung, whom I have chatted to several times over the last few years, and whose books I used in my university research. Floyd and Sally, after serving in Afghanistan and red light Amsterdam, are currently training disciples in the townships of Cape Town for church planting in Muslim Africa.
On Friday afternoon Floyd dealt with some ‘discipleship dynamics’ (my term), and I thought it helpful to share these with any interested. I will list these in normal script, and then add my own thoughts in italics. Let us re-evaluate our own disciple-making and organic house church communities in the light of Floyd’s global perspective.
Discipleship is made up of 3 components, and all three are essential to a biblical view:
- Worship. In the biblical sense, certainly not merely Sunday morning stuff. Is this in my mix? Life, justice, praise, service…
- Mission. In the biblical sense, i.e. via life, word and deed. Is this in my mix? Organic house churches must look outward, and they should multiply even if it takes time (in the West it does!).
- Community. In the biblical sense. Is this in my mix? Organic house churches must experience community, as for example in Acts 2:42ff.
Discipleship should be ‘intentional’ in the sense of fulfilling the Great Commission (Knowing Floyd and his writings as I do, he doesn’t see people as personal projects for evangelism but as whole people with unique deposits within them). E.g. when we speak prophetically to people, we must learn to ‘call forth’ that which God has already deposited within them for the glory of his Son. We must ‘speak destiny’ to people. I think this is especially important for those of us who lead (i.e. as servant leaders, leading organically, horizontally, in a non-controlling way).
Intentional discipleship walks hand-in-hand with biblical core-values. Imagine a bulls-eye comprising 3 circles:
- The outer one is behaviour – you don’t start there! Sadly we so often do. Conform to our behavioural standards, then we can accept you. How unlike Jesus, e.g. his handling of the woman caught in adultery in Jn. 8.
- The next circle is beliefs – you don’t start there! Again we so often do. Conform to my brand of theology (Reformed, Charismatic, etc), and then we can accept you.
- The inner circle is deep inner belief, if you like ‘the heart.’ We must always disciple for the heart. Get to know people, love them, win their hearts, take their hearts captive to Jesus.
What is a biblical core value? [see Paul’s in Acts 20:23-24: sacrifice and suffering for Jesus, unwavering (fierce) focus, the gospel (The gospel is all that God is for us in Christ, not just the ‘sinner’s prayer’ )]
- Deep inner belief – from the heart…
- Something we will sacrifice for…
- What we’re passionate about…
- The fruit of our life, i.e. our time, money, focus…
In discipling the lost, always presume that God has already been at work in their lives. We simply join the process and the journey. I.o.w. discern and co-operate/facilitate. Bless what God is already doing. This was a good reminder for me personally. See Jn. 1:1-14.
Other general principles of discipleship that grabbed my attention:
- Disciple to convert, rather than convert to disciple. I.o.w. disciple toward Christ.
- People must discover biblical truth for themselves. Keep your mouth shut and let the Spirit speak.
- Disciple in existing social networks. E.g. a hobby, sport, the arts, etc.
- Disciple to obey. Obedience is more important than knowledge.
- Look for the person of peace. See Lk. 10:1-9.
- Sow abundantly everywhere: then discern where the good soil is and watch what grows. Resist the temptation to become a ‘weed-attacker,’ a church speciality.
- Share good news! God is for people…
- Lead by not leading, i.e. from underneath.
- Outsiders raise up insiders. Pre-Christians often make the best evangelists. E.g. the South African school teacher who intentionally chose the class bully in a township school to disciple, gradually giving him more trust and responsibility. He is now a positive influence in the class!
Food for thought, hey!?