I was recently visiting few men at the church, and at the close of our conversation, I asked, “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?” Few of the men paused and thought through, but one responded and indicated that, “Disciples are not followers of Jesus.”
Today, with many much innovation in new strategies entering into church leadership organization, sometimes it’s even hard to navigate through and defining the basic principle of discipleship.
Interestingly, the best way to answer that question is to focus not on the concept of a “disciple,” but on the identity of Jesus. In order to understand what it means to live as followers of Jesus, we must first have a proper view of Jesus Himself.
For disciples are called to know Christ, grow with Christ, and go for Christ.
Therefore, being a disciple is all about Jesus! But honestly, when we look in our churches today, there seems to be a whole lot of not-Jesus-people sort of people. At least for me, the church seems to be filled with bunch of self-righteous, judgmental, hypocritical people. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and ask your next-door neighbor who doesn’t believe in God. He will back me up.
I wonder what Jesus would say if he would to visit the 21st century evangelical churches? I’m afraid he will say, “Oh you Pharisees! Depart from me.”
Our current methods are getting the current results. Here are three church practice that needs to die in order for the church to return to a Christ-centered Discipleship.
1. No More Binge Watching
The church is filled with people who think in their mind they are participating in the mission, yet are binge watching from the side lines and give criticism of how others are making disciples.
To be a disciple of Jesus is to participate in God’s redemptive mission for the world.
As we read throughout Scripture, we will notice that Jesus’ disciples rarely engage His mission as individuals.
As a disciple of Jesus, you are part of that church. Therefore, you have inherited the continued mission to spread the gospel message to the end of the earth. That doesn’t mean you’re obligated to become a missionary, but it does mean you have been called to play a part in proclaiming the gospel throughout all nations.
As disciple of Jesus, you’ve inherited His commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). You’ve also been given His command to serve as His witness “In Jerusalem, and in All Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Obviously, you can’t fulfill either of those charges by yourself. You need to be part of something bigger – something capable of reaching through your community and outward to the entire world.
In other words, you need the church in order to fulfill your mission as a disciple of Christ.
God’s will for your life is that you come to know Jesus in a deeper and personal way, that you grow in your relationship with Him, and that you use your gifts to advance His mission for the world through the community of the church.
2. No More Pulpit Hoarding
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Sometime as believers, we forget that God wants to use more the unschooled ordinary men to bring a change into this world! The millennial generation craves pastors that comprehend their desire for relationship and experiencing God. Young pastors from the generation comprehend this idea and thus could bridge the gap.
A recent study by Barna Research group came up with the new stats. David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group said, “There are now more full-time senior pastors who are over the age of 65 than under the age of 40,”
Therefore, we have millennials leaving the church and less young pastors. There seems like a real need for young pastors as there are less young men in the church which create a gap between the generation.
As the average pastor grows older in America, churches say they are struggling to find young Christians who want to become future pastors; this is a discipleship problem.
Pastors, it’s time for letting the next generation to take over. Disciple them, mentor them, equip them, train them intentionally through a relational environment.
3. No More Passive Mentality
In the early church, it was an exciting and confusing time for the earliest disciples of Jesus. They were exciting because of the many ways in which God’s Spirit moved to accomplish mighty things. They were sometime confusing because the earliest disciples were still figuring out what it means to live as followers of Christ in their everyday lives.
That’s why the epistles were so important! These letters helped clarify important elements of the Christian life, including the importance of discipleship.
To live as a disciple of Jesus includes embracing a lifestyle of discipleship!
Therefore, as by definition, a follower of Christ are called to grow toward maturity in Jesus and help others do the same! Discipleship by definition is that simple. Nothing less, nothing more.
So there is no such thing as a passive, purpose-less lifestyle of those who embrace Jesus and the culture do not obey the will of Christ.
It’s Time for a Change
There is not much middle ground to them. They already live in a world filled with too much gray. The last thing they want from Christianity is a middle-of-the-road faith. They are looking for some solid, loving, and authentic community that will produce results.
It’s not enough for us to simply understand Jesus’ redemptive mission for the world. We must go further. We must take action. Indeed, to be a disciple of Jesus is to participate in His mission and purpose for the world.
Are you unintentionally promoting and rewarding a consumeristic approach to faith?
God is unimpressed by human speed. Go deep, not just wide. Grow members, not just numbers. Serve your successor, not just yourself.