Saturday, December 2, 2017

Concerning Discipleship

I woke up this morning with discipleship on the brain. For the past three days our church leadership has been talking discipleship and now I’m trying to figure out where that all fits. Part of my struggle is because we went through DiscipleWay training a few years ago and I can’t help but compare the two. All of the stuff we heard on night one this week seemed awfully familiar. I know we need to be making disciples who make disciples. In spite of the instructor saying that wasn’t what he was taught, I can’t say that. I grew up in a small church and for all the disadvantages of small churches, discipleship comes naturally to them. And then you have DiscipleWay, which is a very practical method of disciple making. Even if I’m not leading people through the material, I find that in teaching situations I am drawing on it to teach people the proper way to study the Bible, to pray, etc. Someone said they felt discouraged by the implication that we’ve been doing it wrong all these years. I don’t think we should be, because even if we aren’t taking people through the whole process ourselves, God can and does use multiple teachers to take people from spiritual babes to full maturity. Is there a better way? Yes. But we haven’t been wasting our time.

The most useful thing I got out of this week is a tool for assessing where people are in their spiritual development.

Things got a bit more practical on the third night, but there were some of us still asking, “But what is it that we would actually need to do?” A curriculum was mentioned and someone made the statement, “That sounds like Awana.” I don’t know what to think about that. I kind of want to fall back to DiscipleWay. That’s my comfort zone. I know how to do that. It’s very good material. I’m not so sure about something someone would describe as “Awana for adults.” But the problem with DiscipleWay is that it isn’t designed for spiritual infants. It is great for leadership development, but it isn’t something that we would plug every member and visitor of our church into. I can see it taking spiritual young adults to spiritual parenthood, but not taking spiritual infants and children to spiritual young adults.

One of the things I’ve struggled with using DiscipleWay is finding those guys to lead through the material. With the stuff we talked about this week, I don’t think we would have the same problem and actually, this new stuff could feed into DiscipleWay. I could see group leaders identifying some of their people as being ideal candidates to DiscipleWay. It was mentioned this week that Jesus had twelve disciples who went everywhere with him, but there were three that he took aside. Perhaps the three are the ones one would take through DiscipleWay, but everyone would go through some other stuff.

The big difference between what the people we talked to this week are doing and DiscipleWay is that these people are making the assumption that everyone will be in one of these groups. When they began, they literally divided their congregation up among their group leaders. They have zones in their auditorium and if someone sits in their zone the group leader in that zone asks them if they are in a group yet. In counseling situations, the pastor asks people who their group leader is and invites that leader in on the conversation. They expect that people will invite lost post to group meetings and that new membership will come through there first.

On that point, this seems to be in direct contrast with the material they taught us. There is a statement, “We can only disciple those who are…Faithful, Available, Teachable.” But if you are bringing lost people into the group and teaching spiritual infants you are including people who don’t meet that requirement. They may be available and teachable, but they aren’t faithful. If we do I job, they will be eventually, but they aren’t faithful yet.