Discipleship on Mission: Why you must have both – Part I

June 3, 2011

For many followers of Jesus, life in missional community can often seem like an add on.  “Why do I need to live in missional community?  I’m already being discipled and discipling other believers.”  Its a common question, and one who’s legitimacy I totally understand.

There is at least one thing the above question nails about missional community: missional community is about making disciples.   It was God’s original intention (Genesis 1:27-28), furthered in Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and renewed by Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20); humanity’s commission has always been to fill the earth with people who reflect the character and life of God in all things.  So, yes, life is meant to be about disciple making.

Still, I am left with a few cautious questions about our discipleship.  For myself much of the discipleship I have participated and perpetuated has been of a very specific type: once a week, curriculum oriented, usually weighted toward accountability and Bible study.  Not that these things are bad, but I have a couple questions:

  • How are you discipling the nations?  Jesus’ commission to his followers was to “go and make disciples of all nations”.  Obviously at that point “the nations” means people who aren’t following Jesus, right?  So who are you discipling who doesn’t know Jesus yet?
  • What is the point of purity?  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not questioning whether we should pursue holiness.  I’m questioning our motivation for it.  Is there a reason God has called you to holiness (even though we’re bound to fail)?  Why should we desire holiness?
  • Why do you need to be discipled?  Is it solely because Jesus says so?  Ephesians 1:19-20 says that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us.  So why has God invested this great power in you?  What is the purpose for which he has equipped, empowered and commissioned us?

Discipleship is good–very good even!  We need to be discipled and to disciple others.  But at times our discipleship can lose its way.  We become isolated, we lose our purpose and sometimes our “gains” in the spiritual disciplines for example can become little more than spiritual merit badges, disappointing victories over an unclear enemy.

So, as the title suggests, how is discipleship on mission different?

More to come…


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