I have often been struck by John’s description of the first disciples being called. I would sum up his description of discipleship being that it is people following Jesus to be in his presence and inviting others to come with them and follow Jesus. That’s discipleship in a nutshell.
I was reminded of this again recently when I heard a church elder talk about how he had gone about discipleship during lockdown. He’d provided opportunities for people to join with him for a daily devotion. His reasoning was that It’s what I would be doing at that time of day anyway.”
This was music to my ears. In fact, that’s what we had sought to do during the lockdowns and why we began providing morning and evening prayer as well as other opportunities to either study God’s Word (Faithroots Live) or simply join a conversation with fun, laughter, food and time to apply God’s Word to a topical issue. You see, that’s exactly what I would be doing with my days. It felt right to offer the simply invitation for others to join me in doing what I would be doing anyway.
I hope that when we come out of lockdown properly, finally and fully that we will take some of the lessons we have learnt from this time with us and one I’m hoping for is a sharper, simpler focus on making disciples.
There are two aspects to this. Two questions to ask
- Would it be possible for people to simply join with me in the routines of my day and be discipled. There are of course practical and structural questions to consider. Is my life structured in a way that makes it possible for people to join in so that in some sense we live Christian life together? At the same time, there are some deeper questions. If my life was structured so people could join in with me, would I want them to and would it be spiritually healthy leading to growth and fruit in their lives.
- Do we know who the disciple makers are in our churches and are our churches structured to enable them to use their gifts to serve and equip the church? These really should be the leaders and the elders shouldn’t they? Too much of our focus has been on whether people have a certain charisma that enables them to stand up in front of a large crowd and, bluntly, to perform. COVID Lockdown has of course made a lot of those skills rather redundant. The Bible instead says that elders are those
- Whose own home life is order
- Whose reputation in the workplace is good
- Who have a gift of and a love of hospitality
- Who are able to teach
In other words, elders are those with a particular gifting when it comes to making and growing disciples. Everything described there points to ministry that happens day to day in the week, one to one and with small groups of people.
I would encourage you to be asking those questions and looking forward for your churches to see what that might mean for future discipleship.