Discipleship…a lost art.

We’ve lost something in the church.  Something that is core to what makes us the church and in all our efforts to produce it, the reality is we couldn’t be further from it.

Discipleship.

Can anyone tell me where discipleship has gone from our experience at church?  In the past few weeks I’ve literally had a dozen conversations that all sounded the same.

Discipleship seems like a vocabulary word that floods the church and we all think its something we’re doing but the reality is that discipleship as it was meant to be is a lost art.

What we aren’t talking about.

1. The simple distinction between programs and non-programs.

2. The leadership lessons or strategies behind multiplying small groups.

3. The call to manufacture or fake an experience of transformation.

What we are talking about.

1. An epidemic that at the vert least is being experienced by my peers in youth ministry and at worst the church at large…we aren’t providing a space in the local church for people to encounter God and have their soul cared for.

HOLD UP! yes we do have small groups, yes we do preach the word, yes we do provide space for this to take place…this must simply be a philosophy of ministry rant that the author is going on…don’t tune out just yet.

My Tipping Point beyond Methodology.

As a student ministries pastor I hear so many other student ministry pastors tell me that they are not getting soul care in their church.  I hear this at youth ministry gatherings where they are hoping other youth ministry pastors will be able to provide what their local church is not…discipleship.  When you hear it once its an anomaly.  When you hear it in every conversation you have its an epidemic.  The stat that was quoted to me was 90% of all youth pastors don’t feel like they’re getting soul care.  I don’t know if thats true, but 9Marks has some startling stats HERE.  And these are the people “leading” the church?

Forget about discipleship for a second, how about just plain enjoyment in the job we get to do?!  (that number was only 23%)

  • 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
  • 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they
    thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.

And again I ask…these are the men and women leading the church?”

“Completely different” sounds like an exaggeration unless…..this discipleship that the church has been called to do (Matthew 28:18-20) isn’t happening on any level because it isn’t being modeled.

No one has ever shown pastors how to disciple and as a result they produce what they have always known and the wheel begins to spin faster and faster and faster until they burn out.

The Call to the Church in 2014.

Stop reproducing and multiplying “mentors”.  Stop holding bible studies of an intellectual pursuit that never impacts hearts.  Stop having applicational dialogue that has no reference to the scriptures at all.  Quit talking about leadership principles and leadership lessons.  Stop investing all your resources in the vessel of the church without any interest in the treasure.

Discipleship.

What is it….

…something we need more than we know.

…something we think were doing but were not.

…something that needs more space than a 700 word piece can do justice.

…something that starts from the inside out and has the power to transform the world.

…something that is as simple as helping people to know God, enjoy God, and helping them to help others in that process.

Simple to say, harder to do…even harder to stick to…this is Gods plan for the church.

3 thoughts on “Discipleship…a lost art.

  • Great post! I think one of the big challenges in this area is vulnerability and transparency. I feel in many cases church leaders are expected to be invulnerable and non-human. I think somewhere along the line the idea of exposing our weaknesses and struggles has become taboo, not the done thing, and this filters down into the culture of the church until we arrive at a point where there are programs and structures yet little true authentic relationships where people are honest and open about their goals and their weaknesses. I think this is a departure from the church we read about in the bible where Paul, almost routinely (2 Cor 1 & 11-12, come to mind) spoke about seasons of feeling fragile, weak, vulnerable or indeed the opposite. He didn’t edit his experience of faith, he showed it all. And these are just the letters that were circulated around the churches, I can only imagine how much more open he must’ve been in face to face relationships if he was this naked in the church newsletters.

    I can’t be certain of course but I do feel restoring this kind of authenticity to our church cultures will do much to provide the platform where true discipleship can take place and where people can actually share life with one another – encouraging, counselling, supporting, correcting and challenging one another as we grow together in the Lord.

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