Thursday is for Discipleship
“Discipleship is evangelistic before it is formative.” I’ve written about this before (see here). When we fail to understand this we truncate the process of real spiritual formation that is truly biblical and Christ-like. Even as I write that sentence I become aware of another aspect of the problem. Words have changed meaning.
Mention discipleship in the church and people instantly jump to the category of “things we do to deepen people in Christ.” This is part of the reason for the drift away from “discipleship” to “spiritual formation” as the preferred term for growing people in Christ. While I like the phrase (spiritual formation) it is not an improvement and furthers the problem we have in understanding where the process of discipleship begins and what it must always include.
The term “Christ-like” has a similar problem. Put it in any sentence and the overwhelming majority of readers will instantly hear it as an adjectival term denoting a life that is gentle, meek and mild. But I would contend that it means more (not less) than that. To do things in a Christ-like way is to do things in the pattern of Jesus. It is to imitate him in his associations, behaviors, and motivations. Which brings me back to discipleship is evangelistic before it is formative.
If we fail to understand where Jesus ALWAYS began his process of discipleship we will not understand the best process of discipleship. The Church does many good things, and we should keep doing many of them, but the task is to MAKE DISCIPLES (Mt. 28), and if we are to do that we must, all of us, not just the gifted ones, become better at proclaiming the gospel.
If we aren’t fishing for men, we aren’t following Jesus. By the way, one of the great effects of doing more fishing for men, is that we have the privilege of seeing more radical transformation of lives as people move from darkness to light, from the the kingdom of this world to the kingdom of our great God and king. if we are going to be his, we have to fish.