What Does it Mean to “Raise the Bar on What it Means to be a Disciple”?

Thursday is for Discipleship

“Lower the bar on what it means to be a church. Raise the bar on what it means to be a disciple.”  –Neil Cole

Whatever you think of the overall approach of Neil Cole [That’s Neil pictured on the right.] and the Organic Church movement, this mantra is hard to argue with. It has the ring of truth to it. It has the pith of memorability about it. It has simplicity without being simplistic about it.

What it doesn’t have is flesh and bones on it. It doesn’t have “a here’s how to do it” about it.

It points in a direction but it is missing a GPS signal. Read the book and you will get more. But here, on this site, I want to encourage original thinking. You can do that whether you have read the book or not. If you want to “prime the pump” of your thinking, you can read the comment thread. So, focusing on the second half of the slogan, here’s my question:

“What would it look like in our churches if we “raised the bar on what it means to be a disciple?”

7 thoughts on “What Does it Mean to “Raise the Bar on What it Means to be a Disciple”?

  1. Good Question, I think to often we say things without giving hope or practicality in the challenges that come from Scripture.
    Luke 14:25-35 gives some great insights into what people are “signing up for” as a Christian. Jesus tells us in this passage that you have to count the cost of truly being a disciple.

    We are starting a Spritual Foundations class with individuals that will teach the basics; baptism, communion, service in and out of the church, biblical giving, things about the trinity, etc along with Christian apologetics to give real life ability to use and share the Word of God that we stand on. Disciples are called out after, Jesus models this for us, and we need to call on people that we see maturing and growing and empower with Truth.


  2. Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

    And He said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is available to you now.”

    I view that opening the door in answer to His knock as being equivalent to the act of repentance; His entering in and eating with me as the discipling that enables me to live in the Kingdom of God. Without that discipling, I would be nothing but a Christian streaker–clothed only in the helmet of salvation. With it, I am equipped to fulfill the Great Commission, making disciples as I go.

    We ignore that command to make disciples at our own peril and will have to answer for our unwillingness to properly invest the talent(s) given to us, whether it be 10, 5 or 1.

    It is not raising the bar so much as we, who are called to shepherd, meet our calling and lead others deeply into that wonderful life in the Kingdom of God in the here and now, a life of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.


  3. How about …
    1. We would expect a greater involvement in reaching the lost from the the very start.
    2. We would give more opportunity earlier for them to demonstrate faithfulness.
    3. We would put them in stretching situations earlier.
    4. We would emphasize eschatology–Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead. (1 Thess. is written to baby Christians.)
    5. We would expect and exhort them to holiness, love and sacrifice.
    6. We would baptize them earlier than we do (generally).
    7. We would teach them the sermon on the mount as the normative goal for their behavior.
    8. We would cultivate a shema-lifestyle – loving God with all our heart, mind soul and strength and our neighbors as ourselves.
    There’s a start.


  4. Getting back in the discussion 6.5 years later. I think the first step in disciplining someone is to help them develop a personal rule of spiritual disciplines. Help them set up a discipline of Bible study, prayer, meditation, etc, tailored to their current walk with the Lord. That needs to be accompanied by regular mentoring and accountability. Programs are not nearly as effective as one on one mentoring over bacon and eggs with a cuppa on a regular basis. Or one on two or three as the circumstances require.

    Liked by 1 person

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