Thursday, June 27, 2019: “A Call to Action” Nurturing Fully Devoted Followers of Christ. I had the opportunity for lunch today with a group of pastors, staff persons, and lay leaders to discuss the issue of discipleship. What is it? How do we help people journey towards becoming fully devoted followers of Christ? What are modern day barriers that inhibit or distract people from a life journey of discipleship?
What is the role of local congregations in discipleship? How about preaching? What about small groups? Does missional engagement play a role? Is it about getting people deeper into a churched culture? Or, is it about getting people deeper into a life journey as followers of Jesus? Could it be both?
What is the best strategy or methodology for discipleship in congregations? Are there age or birth cohort differences in how discipleship can take place? Are there racial and ethnic differences? Are there socio-economic differences?
What role does head knowledge of the Bible, experiences with the Living Word of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit play in discipleship? Is it what you know or what you do? Where do spiritual gifts come into play? Is there a litmus test that can be applied to all people this says if you do certain things you have matured in discipleship, and if you do not you have not? What are the absolutes or non-negotiables of discipleship?
One approach I have championed over the years is an action then reflection approach. Engage people in some type of missional action focused particularly on people and situations outside their comfort zone. They reflect on what this means theologically, missiologically, and personally for each person and the congregational community.
The idea is to disorient people, take them outside their typical daily life, allow them to experience the presence of God in others (as in Matthew 25:37-40), and then reflect and learn what our Triune God is saying to them through these experiences and what that means for their discipleship. I call you to action-based discipleship.