To Make True Disciples, We Must Check Our Models and Our Hearts
by Wayne Newcomb
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In a recent response to an article that Pastor Glenn (@ http://www.intersectsmyrna.blogspot.com/ ) had posted on his Blog and in conversations with other pastors and leaders in the Body of Christ it is obvious that many believe we must do a better job of making true disciples. Some have called for a new Reformation where the concept of the ‘ministry or priesthood of all believers’ becomes a functional reality and not just a great idea. I believe that some churches are working very hard at this and are seeing some good results. I believe however, that many of our discipleship models are not based on the model Jesus used, which was the one used by Jewish Rabbis where people were equipped and not simply lectured or had conceptual data transferred to them, which was more of a Greek model. When a Jew was taught something and said "I believe," they knew that their belief required a life that demonstrated that belief, it meant to live out the teaching and not simply give mental agreement that the concept or idea was true along with many others. There is a need for discipleship or equipping that accomplishes the mission of Ephesians 4:11-13. It must be more like coaching some one to play a sport or teaching them a trade, such as carpentry than it is to teach someone to memorize a new word for a spelling bee.
11 And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. 12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church), 13[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. AMP
The other statement about discipleship that I have heard from many which pertains to the American church and many other churches around the world is, ‘unhealthy’. Jason Upton on his music CD 'Faith’ has a song (Freedom) in which he says "The church is sick and needs God alone. People we must seek His face. If we will turn from our unrighteousness he will cleanse our evil ways." This is a rephrasing of (2 Ch 7:13-14,” if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” NIV)
The Bible teaches us that God will not rest on or abide with, or honor a people who do not know Him in an intimate way, and who have lives that do not honor Him above all else. Upton goes on to ask that God's Glory and honor rest on our lives. This can only come as we yield to His Word and humble ourselves along with giving ourselves completely to Him daily.
I am frequently amazed that my fellow leaders are seeking more and more complex and detailed ways to train people the wrong way,(using the wrong model). It is not the method alone but the content of our training that needs change. The solution is not some amazing new way to teach people, but it is going back to what I have seen in students from all over the world. A total giving of ourselves to Him. That is the starting point, which must be followed by Whole life Equipping. Whole life equipping is a truly new Reformation for equipping people in Spirit, Soul (the mind, will, emotions) and Body. This is a functional realization of the doctrine of the Priesthood of all believers. It starts with what has been said above and then goes on to teach, integrate and experience the life and teachings of Jesus and His disciples today.
Let us all give ourselves (our personal development), our discipleship and leadership training programs an evaluation. Are they accomplishing what Ephesians 4:11-13 intends them to? Will you ask God to start a new Reformation in you and through you, today?
If you are interested in a few other sites that will help you to ask more questions and possibly lead to some answers look at http://www.leadnet.org/ and http://www.lifestream.org/lsfrontpage.html. These sites offer resources and perspectives that may challenge what you think, so enjoy the adventure as you seek His plans and solutions for Equipping the believer today.
Stop by my site http://equippersnetwork.blogspot.com
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Wise words, aptly said.