[Today’s post is a guest post by Miguel Labrador with Pathways International.]
This article was born from a single blog post entitled “7 God-Directed Deviations in Disciple Making,” In this first article, I laid out how a multi-generational discipleship culture, four generations at the time, had occurred within a year. This happened via movements away from accepted norms to what I called, “God-Directed Deviations.” Recently, a respected brother, after a series of provocative posts, said “Hey Miguel, why not post on what works?” So here are 7 More God Directed Deviations in Discipleship:
1) From Drivers to Passengers – “If I can’t drive, I call shotgun!” Most have a tendency to want to drive. Disciple Making is not too different. Our tendency is to want to drive the vehicle. We determine the direction, speed, and destination. Sometimes, our chauffeuristic inclinations get the best of us. Getting in the back seat, or moving from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s position seems to be a natural movement in biblical discipleship.
So, in discipleship, take advantage of every opportunity to become a passenger in other’s journeys.
2) From Occupation to Obedience – By occupation, I mean the idea of letting the professionals do “their work.” You know those seminarians, pastors, elders, and other Church Folk. Any time we as disciple makers act in such a manner as to communicate the idea that there will be those coming after us to do “the follow-up,” those more qualified than ourselves, we defer to them.
Every believer, in order to be obedient must teach others to obey all that Christ commanded which necessarily includes the command to make disciples.
3) From What works, to Who works – Getting back to what inspired this post, my friend and respected fellow harvest worker, Justin Long, said “Hey Miguel! Why not post on what works?” Justin’s short comment is double edged. On the one hand it reminds me not to be defined by what I’m against, to encourage others, to equip them for ministry, and to always speak the truth in love.
What “works” for us is often determined by our own benchmarks, criteria, and unfortunately, numbers. We create our own disciple making success stories by defining what it means to be a successful disciple maker. The Disciple Making Movement “works” here because we’ve stressed the “One who works in you,” rather than “what works.”
Stop chasing after “what works,” and simply abide in “The One Who Works.”
4) From Apologetics to Answering - I’ve been reminded recently, that we must “strive to answer the person behind the question.” I’ll take that one step further in saying that “We must answer the person behind the question with a person, the person of Jesus Christ.” Rather than getting all beefy, apologetically speaking, and getting amped up on theological responses, the sincerity of the “I don’t know, lets search together,” deviation has actually caused Christ centered community in our midst. Disciples making disciples is a natural outgrowth of this.
Vulnerable transparency breeds Christ-centered curiosity. Curiosity is more powerful when it happens in community. Christ wants to satiate our curiosity when it concerns Him.
5) From Systemization to Story – I love the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I love Systematic Theology. Many of you also love these “systems.” I’m always drawn to them. When it comes to disciple making though, I have to consistently push away from the desire to use them. I am not adamantly anti-institutional because there is “structure” within disciple making processes.
Story has more of a disciple making impact than system. Theology can be transmitted through story.
6) From Fabrication to Framework - Widget factories make widgets. Disciples should be Making Disciples. Problem is that many of our disciple making efforts yield something other than disciples of Jesus. The production or fabrication of disciple making materials far outweigh actual disciples.
We have steered clear of fabrication and moved towards framing. It has becoming painfully clear that fabrication creates religion and religion hinders relationship. Providing all the requirements gives people something to attain rather than to operate within. The “insert thumb and pull tab” discipleship methods have done little to foster disciple making movements.
A loose or elastic framework allows disciple makers to push the envelope, stretch the boundaries and ask “Lord, what does this mean, and what must I do.”
Seek to frame, guide, question, and provoke growing disciples into thinking with their renewing and transforming minds rather than providing the thoughts that others, and ourselves at times, think they should have.
7) From Orphanages to Organic Nurseries – I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like to visit orphans. It is, after all, part of what “true religion” consists of. Likewise, I’ve never heard anyone condemn an orphan for being an orphan. But, I’m always astounded by how easy it is for the church to make spiritual orphans in our discipleship methodology by “getting them saved” and leaving the disciple making to someone else.I have personally seen and experienced the fruit of this sort of mentality. In fact, it’s better to assume that there will never be follow up, if you’re not doing it.
Here in Ecuador, we have encouraged gathering by way of “studies” in homes, various activities in community centers, Discipleship Groups, Life Transformation Groups, and other focal assemblies, and our goal is to continue to do so. If some of them look like what other’s consider “churches,” then so be it.
If we seek to plant ourselves and the Gospel in communities, we will always get churches or gatherings of God’s people.
At the writing of this current post, we have passed 10 generations of disciples and we can no longer see the horizon. It’s a good thing. We’re not pushing the boundaries, we’re blurring them. Glory to God!
Miguel Labrador serves with Pathways International NC Inc., an international relief organization Pioneering Pathways to serve the least of these in Jesus name. Miguel also has a Facebook Page called “Making Disciples” where he shares encouraging messages with those seeking to make disciples in their own lives.