This is part 7 of our ten part series on The Fundamentals of building a Community of Discipleship. Here’s the other parts:
So, now that we’ve spent time on the fundamental questions of Why we Disciple, What Discipleship is, and Who is responsible for the discipling, it will greatly aid us in our working through How to disciple. As with the other posts in this blog, I’m not looking to answer that question for you but to pose questions and concepts to stiumlate your own thoughts on this. Methodologically there are lots of options. In the next few week we’ll address some important but broad parameters about “How” but today I want to return briefly to the idea of Ephesians 4 and equipping.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. week we’ll talk a little bit more about what equipping looks like.
It is clear, as we’ve already discussed that the works of service which are to do the actual building of the church are to be done by the people of the church and not merely by the leaders. But what about the Apostles, Prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. While there is some discussion that perhaps these gifts are also intended to be seen as something that every member of the church does, it does not actually appear to me to be what Paul is saying. Here, Paul refers to the people as the gifts, or at least the positions, rather than the act of the gift itself. In other words, gifts are given to you to build up the church, and people are given with specific roles to benefit you in that role of building up the church. There is a structure and differentiation of roles within Paul’s description of the local church and this is in line with that idea, that certain roles are specifically given, not only for acts of service and discipleship (which all people do) but also specifically for the equipping of the saints for their works of service.
So to begin our journey of how let’s briefly ask a few questions about how you, as a leader, equip the saints for works of service.
Atmosphere: Given everything we’ve discussed over the last 6 weeks, what kind of environment or atmosphere do you need to develop and maintain in your community? Are there things you can do to hinder or encourage this kind of atmosphere? As just one example, it’s obvious that community is an extremely crucial aspect of discipleship, so what kind of things do you do as leader to emphasize such community?
Instruction: How do you make sure the tenets of the faith are being faithfully passed on through all of your people as they disciple each other? How do you make sure the indisputable are being protected and not obscured by the disputable items? Are there methods of instruction you don’t currently use which would help? How will you assess your progress here?
Encouragement: How do you provide motivation for your members to press on in discipleship. It is an important, difficult, and life Long task. How are you going to keep them on track and focused? There is a verse in Hebrews, we’ll look at in a future post, which says that our job is to make it as easy as possible for people to walk the christian life, to make the path straight and strengthen the lame. How do you do that?
Taking everything we’ve been discussing into account so far, “How” are you going to do discipleship in your church? What is crucial for methodology, what is not.
As always I encourage you to explore these questions in community with fellow leaders if you can. If I can help, consider contacting me and we’ll see if there are any ways I might be able to be of service. Contacting me is free, as are some of the resources I offer.
Also, questions, comments, and arguments are always welcome in the comments.
See you next week!
Smiling at the future,
I founded Discipleship Matters to help churches with leadership retreats, pastoral coaching, guest speaking and conferences as another supporting voice in your work of discipleship. We can create a custom long term plan (anywhere from 6 months to 2 years) or arrange an al-a-carte conference. (If the information in this series intrigues you, I’d specifically suggest the Big Ideas conference where I help you and your leaders work through these important first questions on your way to a unique plan of “How” to build a thriving community of Discipleship. I value you and the work you do and want to help if I can in anyway. Call me at 505-393-5433(LIFE) or email me at Pastormac_@mac.com (put Discipleship Matters in the subject if you want to get my attention right away.)