To most Christians, that may be the scariest word in the English language. What thoughts are conjured up in your mind when you hear that word? Memorizing scripture? Reading chapter after chapter after chapter of the Bible? Sitting in a circle with a small group of individuals and studying like you never thought you would? Workbooks? Theology? Digging, digging, digging? Maybe a little Greek and Hebrew? Brain cells screaming for mercy?
If so, I think you’re in good company. That’s most of our pictures of what discipleship looks like. Now, I want to challenge your thinking. Don’t misunderstand me, those are all good things. I’ve done them all. I’m all for them. They have their place. But, here’s my question for you…Did Jesus make disciples? Duh, that’s an easy one. Next question…Is that how he did it? Uh, well, not exactly. I’m sure they sat around in a little circle from time to time and I know Jesus quoted scripture to them (since he wrote it, I guess that was to be expected). But, what was Jesus’ methods for making disciples? Ready? I’m going to map it all out for you. Here we go….
Jesus did and the disciples watched
The disciples did and Jesus watched
The disciples did it on their own
Is that it? Yep, that was it. Nothing at all like our concept of disciple-making, is it? So, where’s the disconnect? Simply put, our concept of discipleship centers solely on how much a person KNOWS. Jesus’ concept of discipleship centered on what a person DID. How well was he equipped. How much of a difference was he making? Our emphasis is EDUCATION. Jesus’ emphasis was APPLICATION. There’s the disconnect.
Listen to what Bill Easum writes in his book, Go Big!.
“Maturity is not measured on your words, but your deeds. Maturing Christians don’t need another course or Bible study. Instead, they need to apply what they already know. People tend to think of discipleship as going deeper in knowledge. An educator can tell you the highest form of learning is application, so put them to work serving, the more the better. If the so-called mature are not willing to serve, don’t let them mentor anyone else or be in a power position, because you don’t want bad DNA embedded into others.”
So, here are my final questions: By that definition, are you a disciple? By that definition, are you making disciples?