"Get Used To Different." Rethink the DNA of Discipleship
Phil Miglioratti • The Reimagine.Network
"Jesus, give me a fresh set of eyes to see how you would be making disciples today.”
Current models of living out our Lord's command to make disciples are rooted in applications designed for a world that preceded the technological era in which we live. Many of our modes and methods were birthed during the emergence of the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the printing press and the dawning of the age of Science. Western civilization was changing. Transportation. Urbanization. Capitalism. Globalism. The impact on education? School buildings patterned after factories. Classrooms with rows of stationary desks. Lectures. Sermons. Sit. Be quiet.
Now, once again, as the prophet Bob Dylan proclaimed, "the times they are a-changin.' These forms and functions from centuries past may no longer be the most effective means of teaching and communicating. The digital age has ushered in new ways to acquire knowledge. Everyone has access to the experts. Programmed approaches lead to regimentation rather than breed experimentation.
We are no longer limited to in-person, learn-by-listening, experiences. We have discovered the power of interaction and collaboration to enhance learning. Questions have become as primary to the educational process as answers. Video, literally, opens eyes and minds.
Like her perspectives or not, Oprah influences more people in one question-and-response interview than the sermons of a thousand preachers. TEDS Talks have been viewed by over 500 million (in over 100 languages), taking us back to the future by reviving true discourse, prompting debate over ideas that bring change (rather than rehearsing rules and regulations that protect status quo). The COVID pandemic has been a wake-up call as to the value of online connectivity for preaching, teaching, worshiping, praying, outreaching; even fellowship. Context in the technological era impacts, and sometimes upstages, content.
If we ignore new modes or mindsets of instructing, it is to our detriment. If we utilize only methods and programs of the past, we risk becoming irrelevant. Information, factual-based learning, produces Christ-believers (biblical indoctrination) who often have great difficulty becoming Christ-imitators (biblical lifestyle). Without transformation (Romans 12:2), information may convert someone to attend "church" but not necessarily to pursue Christ-likeness. Spiritual maturity is a lifelong process.
- Text = the Holy Scripture and biblical teachings (the Truth
- Pretext = the personality, worldview, gifting, calling of the person being discipled (the Person)
- Context = the people, places, and circumstances present in the learning experience (the Culture)
We need to design environments that bring Christ-followers together to interact over Christ-focused content. Because the goal of discipleship ("ship" denotes the state or condition of whatever word it modifies) is not to simply believe more about Jesus but to behave more, act like, talk with, learn from, Jesus. Instruction + Interaction ==> Implementation.
To accomplish this, learning leaders must learn how to:
...ask questions, so that, those they disciple realize learning is more than reading and reciting, it is a journey of asking-seeking-knocking with their pastors, teachers, trainers, and coaches, as they study Scripture
...involve listeners and give opportunity for personal response in both small AND large group settings (sermons, seminars, and service/ministry)
...facilitate small group experiences: conversing, praying, celebrating in formal and informal settings that provide opportunity to think-feel-respond...equip learners with the tools to read and research Holy Scripture as a Spirit-led exploration
Jesus utilized a variety of methods as he discipled individuals, small groups and large crowds (personal conversations, dialog at meals, the Beatitude sermon, reading Scripture aloud in the Synagogue). He modeled those examples in an “as we go” style, teaching followers how to rely on the Holy Spirit to bring truth and power to different people in different settings with different needs. [Note: Matthew 28:19 is best understood, not as "Go! and make disciples" but "As you go, make disciples."]
A SKILL-SET for DISCIPLERS
- Invite - learners into a process that is both factual (biblical content) and relational (the fellowship of the believers)
- Inspire - learners through biblically based experiences that equip them to be filled, guided, by the Holy Spirit; a pursuit of wisdom that emanates from God's Word
- Introduce - learners to people and ideas that will equip them to learn about and learn from our Lord and Savior
- Interview – a variety of persons so that your students are exposed to the beautiful diversity of the Body of Christ
- Include - students in all phases of ministry: prayer, planning, promoting, presenting/communicating/teaching
Making-disciples is never a one-person task. Mature-in-Christ disciples need to be influenced by and interact with:
- Teachers: wise and effective communicators of the Scriptures and Christian teachings
- Mentors: experienced and trusted spiritual directors who offer guidance in life-path decision-making.
- Counselors - persons who are gifted and/or trained to help individuals/couples make effective changes in areas of recurring problems or difficulties by applying Scriptural truths
- Coaches - train individuals to "set meaningful goals and identify specific behaviors or steps for meeting them. The coach helps to clarify milestones or measures of success and holds the trainee accountable for them." (internet description)
- Facilitate - someone who convenes and assists a group of students in pursuing their common objectives (worship, fellowship, scripture study, service) without determining the outcome
COMPONENTS to BECOMING A DISCIPLE
Disciple-making is a combination of knowledge and commitment resulting in radical life-change
- Information - "Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message." 2 Timothy 2:15
- Confirmation - "Beloved ones, be eager to confirm and validate that God has invited you to salvation and claimed you as his own. If you do these things, you will never stumble." 1 Peter 1:10
- Transformation - "Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect". Romans 12:2
SETTINGS that promote DISCIPLE-MAKING
- Interview (believers, unbelievers)
- Prayer (for and with one another)
- Service (to the Body of Christ, in the community)
- Onsite Visits (home, work, play)
ACTIONS of DISCIPLE-MAKERS
>As you encounter each scripture, prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit how to apply this truth to your present methods of building Christ-followers.>What can you do better? What must you do differently?
"Lord, help you rethink how to design experiences that produce the same results." ..."Give me courage to stop anything that has fulfilled its purpose" ..."Transform our disciple-making by the renewing of how we think; we want to think like Jesus."
Get ready for different.