the weblog of Alan Knox

Another view of community discipleship

Posted by on Feb 16, 2010 in blog links, discipleship | 7 comments

David Nelson has written positively about community discipleship in a post called “I Was Never ‘Mentored': A Report from the Field, Part 3.” Here is one part of the article:

Put another way, the one-on-one model often highlights the strengths of the discipler, but may also unduly reproduce the weaknesses. I became acutely aware of this some years ago when I saw a person who had met one of my “disciples” (a young man I “mentored” for about two years) and our mutual friend commented, “Oh, I wasn’t with him ten minutes before I knew he was your disciple.” As I listened to him explain why I realized that the young man had not only been positively shaped by me, but had also picked up some quirks and peculiarities from me that I could only hope he would outgrow.

Nelson also suggests that the “Paul/Timothy” model is not THE model of discipleship in Scripture, and perhaps there were more people involved in their relationship besides just Paul and Timothy.

What do you think? One on one discipleship? Community discipleship? Best of both worlds? How, when, where, why, who?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 2-16-2010

    I read a couple of books. “The Master’s Plan of Evangelism” and “Tallyho the Fox”. There was another one I skimmed through called “The Timothy Principle”. Each are thoroughly flawed to me and I say that as gracefully as I know how. Here is why I will start with the easiest.

    1. Paul was breeding an apostolic assistant, one who would spend his time, training, moving, relocating and planting churches. Paul saw this gift (“do the work of an evangelist” and “stir up the gift”) and rightfully put this to use. Timothy was not a “pastor” or an “elder”, he was a traveling minister, who found himself in Philippi, Corinth, Ephesus among other places. Not to mention the entrust and train has very little information on how (2 timothy 2) so to attempt to model something we have no details on seems to be suspect.

    2. We can NEVER do what Jesus did with the twelve! It is simply impossible! Jesus has no flaws, thus Jesus can make disciples with no charachter flaws. We can not. We are fallen and we posses weaknesses and He has given us one another, that is why Paul uses the body language so vividly. We have blind spots, weaknesses (ones we have yet to recognize) and charachter flaws. That is why we don’t make disciples of ourselves we make disciples of Christ. We point them back to Christ. Now we can say follow me as I follow Christ, but that is for the sole purpose of pursuing mutuality, not to make minnie me’s!

    So when a person is being made into a disciple he/she needs the entire body because together we look more like Christ than we do alone. Our blind spots, failures, weaknesses are supplemented by other brothers and sisters who do not have such weaknesses and flaws….. but ultimately we are making disciples of Christ not ourselves and we are Christ body thus community seems to be the only long-term beneficial way to go. We can help people in the short-run but sooner than later we need to drop them off into the community so that they can see God working through others in ways He may not be working in me.

  2. 2-16-2010

    Lionel, what do you mean Timothy wasn’t a pastor? Aren’t 1 and 2 Timothy the “pastoral epistles”? It is clear from Paul’s writings that Timothy was a vocational minister, a senior pastor and he clearly lived in the parsonage. You need to read more carefully my friend.

  3. 2-16-2010

    8) @ Arthur

  4. 2-17-2010

    I read your and Lionel’s blogs daily, and must tell you, that I am blessed and encouraged by both,very often. Today the post hit closer to home than most. I am not a very educated man, and do not feel qualified to enter a lot of conversations. This one however I have had some experience with and would like to add my two cents worth. Growing up in my late teen years and early twenties in South Florida, and coming to Christ in those late 70’s, I was exposed to what many know as the Shepharding/discipleship movement. Since those years I have heard many horror stories and bad experiences. I on the other hand have to say, I am continually thankful to the Lord for bringing me into the relationships with the men and the body of believers that I was a part of at that time. The man who I was “knit” with, opened his entire life to me, his home, work, personal and business, you name it. He invested so much into to me, always pointing me to Christ. God did a work in and through us, bringing together and forming an organic body of believers, that, to this day I long to be apart of again. We were not one of the groups that achieved all of the notoriety, although we did know many of them. We were simply a body of believers, some of whom lived in community and others who did not. That part was purely optional, however my personal choice was to live in community.
    So in conclusion, I must say, that I do agree with one to one, as well as community discipleship. It all works together, but the key is to have Christ as central to it all. I know that sounds simple, and it should be. I know how rare that is, but I can confirm that it is possible, and is still being done. As I am much older now, I find myself desiring these real relationships again, and pray the the Lord brings these about again in my life.
    Lord bless you for keeping a focus on this critical part of following Him. Your brother, John Morris.

  5. 2-17-2010

    Amen John,

    BTW I am not educated nor smart, just overly opinionated :o)

  6. 2-17-2010

    If I can share,

    Part of me, as I’ve been reading throughout the NT via Acts/the Epistles in order, is astounded at how many people traveled with Paul and Timothy who were all considered “fellow workers/”close associatie” of them both………..some of whom are not even MENTIONED in most churches today.

    In example, how often do you hear of the following names making a difference in discipleship?

    -Sopater the Berean (Acts 20:4 )

    -Aristarchus and Secundus (Acts 20:5, Acts 19:29-31)

    -Gaius of Derbe (who was alongside Timothy in Acts 20:4 and also one who opened his home to Paul, Romans 16:22-24 /1 Corinthians 1:13-15 )

    -Tychius ( Titus 3:11-13 / Ephesians 6:20-22 / Colossians 4:6-8 and 2 Timothy 4:11-13 , known as a “faithful brother” to Paul ) and Trophimus ( Acts 21:28-30 /2 Timothy 4:19-21 )

    People so often focus on the “Paul/Timothy” model and forget that Paul had MULTIPLE helpers/others being discipled alongside Timothy……some who were also friends of Timothy on the road, like the man called Erastus ( Acts 19:21-23 ), who was the director of Public Works in Romans 16:22-24 –and whom was sent ALONGSIDE Timothy to give the letter to Corinth in I Corinthians 16:10, I Corinthians 16:5-9),……and who also stayed in Corinth (II Timothy 4:20).

    Phillippians goes into great detail in Philippians 2:18-20 about the work of both TIMOTHY and Epaphroditus

    There’s also Silas, who was also a companion of Timothy when Paul was away–as seen in Acts 17:14 when Paul had to leave and Silas went with Timothy

    There are numerous others, of course—-some of them often mentioned only ONCE—-but as it is, for people to even focus upon Timothy/Paul as if that was the central reflection of discipleship has long been something I think has crippled the church—as the reality is that Paul had many who were close brothers/helpers and who helped Paul in return–with it all being MUTUAL service and a COLLECTIVE endeavor

  7. 2-17-2010

    This is a very helpful discussion. Thank you everyone.

    I wonder… John gave a good example of 1-on-1 discipleship. Has anyone been a part of mutual/community discipleship?