the future’s so bright, he gotta wear shades..
The early church grew from 25,000 to 2 million in 200 years according to Rodney Stark. The Chinese church had a similar curve. What does that say about our church – it holds a mirror up to us. Last time we saw that these movements are obsessed with Jesus, who is Lord.
AND such movements are also always obsessed with disciple-making. If we are not, we’re weakest where we should be strongest. If we fail here, we fail everywhere. And in the West we have not done well! If we are not actively discipling, the culture will disciple us. We’ll be shaped by what’s advertised to get us to conform as consumers. We can’t be a church that advances the cause of Jesus without this.
What’s discipleship? Simply becoming MORE LIKE JESUS. and having communion with Him.
IF you hold to my teaching, IF you are really my disciples – THEN you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
It’s not just ‘truth sets you free’ – which is by the way the CIA’s motto. It’s about making disciples.
It took a long time to be allowed in to the early church you had to go through a catechism that could take years.
You raise the bar on discipleship
You lower the bar on how church is done (ecclesiology)
We’ve set up websites where you can just click on a mouse and you’re ‘saved.’ (??)
How about Jesus? He sets such a high bar the rich young ruler walks away because he won’t repent of his idolatry.
Jesus focused his energies on disciple-making. Because it’s critical to movements.
The fundamental of discipleship is to become like Jesus; the ultimate.
This EMBODIES our faith – (it’s not just a mind thing, notice). I’m to present my BODY as a living sacrifice.
Kierkegaard talked about ‘existence communication’= our lives speak what we believe. He hated Hegel’s platonic idealism, because his ideas were UNLIVEABLE – Hegel built this huge palace of ideas – but can you live in them? Can you live them out? He believed that all objective truth is only validated as such by your life. It’s not true for you really if you’re not living it out. Embodiment is critical!
Embodiment leads to exousia – authority. It comes out of you. Your authority comes out of who you are! It’s not a qualification or a seminary. It is all about who you are. If you’re not like Christ, you can’t have Christ-like leadership.
Start with Jesus. Then disciple like him.
We have to reframe evangelism in this. ‘It’s impossible to teach a man what he already knows.’
It’s also hard to convince a man when his salary depends on it.
We think we know what evangelism is. We pass on pieces of propositional knowledge, and leave it with them. It’s all based on the Great commission- misunderstood.
Jesus said Go therefore and make disciples…
Where do you hear evangelism there?
It’s limited to that too often.
People who share life together naturally share stories, and just loving one another. Bringing out the imago dei which is always there. We disciple PRE ‘conversion’ AND
POST conversion. It’s about genuine loving friendship. Disciple people all along this line…
When were the disciples of Jesus ‘born again’? Peter got it wrong and tried to veer Jesus away from the cross days before it happened! according to our theology if he didn’t understand the cross he couldn’t be saved!
Don’t ‘do evangelism’, make disciples.
In the West we have been influenced in our epistemology by Plato. It’s all about ideals. the pursuit of knowledge, where we THINK our way into a new way of ACTING. So you go to conferences, uni, read books. But while we may get new thinking, we’re often stuck with the old behaviors.
The Bible never speculates on ontology (who God is and what He does) the nearest we get is Jn 1 – where it tells us he became FLESH anyway. You only get God when you know him through that. The Bible addresses our BEHAVIOURS first, not our ideas. Jesus takes his guys along with him, so they ACT their way into a new way of thinking. Our minds will catch up with our actions. When you address behaviours, you get new thinking. Dont dumb it down – but bring the action to the thinking.
Instead of listing core beliefs and then seeing how firmly people believe them, why not look at observable core practices.
Eg Michael Frost’s church in Australia, lots of young adults. they developed some core values embodied in behaviour
BELLS x 3
Be a blessing in some way, could be simple or sacrifical. 1 to someone inside the community, one outside it, and one could go either way. To do 3 acts of blessing a week.
Eat x 3. One with community, one with others. One either way. open your home, your house – act of hospitality. You enfold others in. This invites reciprocity! Doesn’t have to be extravagant. Isn’t it interesting how every covenant in the Bible is linked to a meal. We’ve even made the communion a spooky sacrament. How clever of Jesus, who was accused of being a winebibber and glutton to say ‘this is how you remember me.’
Listen x 3. 3 reflective, contemplative prayer times. However you want to, paying attention 3 x 20 mins = 1 hour a week.
LEARN (x 3). With babies, you feed them on the breast, but there comes a point where they learn to make their own food! And feed others. There are lot of people in church, still on the breast. If you’re still breastfeeding at 20, you’re both going to jail. ‘I am well fed at this church’ = I’m dependent on it. Establish learning communities. Go through the gospels, Matthew to John, over and over. Read in various ways and paces. And/or stop reading rubbish:
porn – for men looking at private parts.
Social porn – for women looking at private lives.
People need to repent of both!!
end every day with prayer of Examen; ‘Where did I work with you?’ And ‘where did I resist you?’ Asks where God has been at work and join with him.
learn from each other
learn from teachers.
SENT – be commissioned by one another. Each person prayed for and sent out.
These common practice shape the community. People will come into the kingdom NATURALLY through these practices.
Check ‘On the Verge’ through this.
List your key values
ask – what would it look like to embody them?
Choose a few, and don’t make it religious. Then make an acronym about it. (BELLS? PARTY?). Then roll it out.
We are deeply formed by the reformation. That has shaped our thinking so much. Luther came out of a panic attack and found a holy God. But not that many people in our modern cities are feeling like that every day. We have to make them feel bad about themselves before we make them feel better about themselves. Guilt is one aspect of our lives, but that’s not ALL. What connects for many more would be the call to have no other gods, and repent of your idols; everything that stops you coming to God.
Ask rather: Do you find sex has become a problem- controlled by that? Are you working and working but never happy?
Worship the real God!
Religion isn’t about us it’s about learning to love God with ALL I am, with my sexuality and possessions. All our vices are virtues gone wrong.
Dealing with idolatry is the basis for disciple-making.