God’s People Pursuing A Culture of Discipleship (Pt 1)

Discipleship isn’t learning more information about Jesus. It is knowing and following Him in the context of His people as we progressively put His commandments into practice while pursuing His mission.

John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

Many churches and leaders believe that they are succeeding if they can produce a Sunday morning service which both appeals to people and motivates them to attend. What about the people who sit in the audience week after week? What about their ongoing motivation in following Jesus and maturing? Meeting attendees are often left to themselves when it comes to following Jesus, growth, and maturity.

The things we experience on Sunday morning should produce a change on Monday Morning.

There is often little motivation in the cultural atmosphere of the church for people to go forward and make progress. For those serious enough to want to go further there are Bible studies and various other groups provided for “discipleship,” but what about the motivational atmosphere in the church culture? Is there an atmosphere that motivates people to follow Jesus, put His words into practice, and live as a family of disciples on His mission?

Having quality Sunday morning services are important but those gatherings can never take the place of people walking together in real everyday life following Jesus, and helping each other put His words into practice while pursing His mission. This is essential to becoming and making disciples who progressing towards maturity (Eph 4:16, Col 2:19).

Gods people are not called to merely attend services. They are called to follow Jesus They are called to become and help make disciples.  Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (19) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe (put into practice) all that I commanded you.

This was how the early Christians lived. So much so that they were labeled disciples way more than Christians. Acts 11:26…the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. The designation of “disciple” was used 269 times in the New Testament while the designation “Christian” was used only 3 times (Acts 11:26, 26:28, 1Pet 4:16)

What does the term “disciple” mean? According to Bible dictionaries, a disciple is “a follower, learner, and an adherent.” The Biblical idea is increasingly loving, following, and obeying Jesus in all areas of life.  We are called to both become and help others become disciples who follow Him and put his words into practice.

We need more than discipleship programs in the church. We need to see a discipleship culture. If discipleship doesn’t reside in the culture of a church then the Great Commission becomes a great option leading to the great omission.

We need more than discipleship programs in the church. We need to see a discipleship culture. If discipleship doesn’t reside in the culture of a church then the Great Commission becomes a great option leading to the great omission.

What would it be like if we had a church culture where becoming and making disciples was a natural part of what everyone did? What if discipleship wasn’t just a program or strategic plan but a culture involving shared values, language, vision, and a common life centered around helping people walk as disciples of Jesus.

We need to be intentional and have a passion for becoming and making disciples. We need a Spiritual inward drive and a cultural motivation in the church to see God’s people live as a relational family of disciples walking together on God’s mission. It is a culture where every person is involved in the process of helping each other as God’s family on God’s mission.

Cultural change starts with the gospel we embrace and proclaim.

The way people come into Christ and the church usually determines how they will walk. What are they committed to by being there? What participation do they exhibit that leads to what the Bible considers growth and maturity? Are their lives actually being transformed by Jesus? AW Tozer said it well, “We can know the right words yet never be changed. This is the difference between information and transformation.”

” We can know the right words yet never be changed. This is the difference between information and transformation.”

Are these Biblical traits of maturity being developed among God’s people?

  • Are people following Jesus, being led by the Spirit (Romans 8)?
  • Are people bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5)?
  • Are people exhibiting the mind of Christ (Philippians 2)?
  • Are people actually taking on the character of love according to God’s definition (Jn 3:16, 1 Jn 3:16, 1 Cor. 13 and 1 John 4)?
  • Are people pursuing “putting off the old person and putting on the new, Jesus” (Colossians 3, Romans 13:8-14)?
  • Are people engaging His mission as they are sent out every day, everywhere, all the time (Jn 17:18, 20:21)?

Shallow or incomplete presentations of the gospel will produce shallow Christians. A wrong perspective on what Christianity is all about will affect discipleship. Progress is often blocked because it is tied by the background assumption of what people believe the gospel is about and their understanding of what it is to be a Christian.

Often Christianity and salvation are reduced to confessing your belief that Jesus died on your behalf. That is all there is to it. Salvation is free and nothing else needs to happen but accept it. Is that really all the gospel is? We tend to treat the experience of conversion as something entirely separate from the process of following Him as a disciple (Mt 28:18-29).  More next time.

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