I’ve invited several people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.
(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at aknox[at]sebts[dot]com.)
This is a guest post by Ben Tayler. His website is at benandcatherine.org.
Building a culture of discipleship
Jesus did not say “Go and re-arrange the chairs”. He told His Disciples to “Go and make disciples” through baptizing people and teaching them to be obedient to Him.
I read with interest the recent post about the British Experience of House Churches.
From my experience of working in the UK believers are happy to re-arrange the chairs, think up modern ways of doing the same old thing and generally discuss and talk about ideas that are working in other cultures and contexts. When presented with the challenge of obedience though normally nothing is ever done. Someone commented on this recent post and said, “Our impression, too, is that many of the new churches are souped up versions of the more traditional churches they came out of. It’s why a major paradigm shift has to occur in the view of what church really is.”
What is this paradigm shift that needs to happen?
Well for us and the growing band of people we are working together with (see www.missionbritain.com) it’s all about building a culture of discipleship. Jesus said that those who love him will be obedient to him (John 14:15) Many folks who are having conversations about Church and Discipleship are missing what Jesus is saying to us all – “If you love me, obey my commands” (John 14:15) It’s very simple. Forget models and great ideas and be obedient.
Jesus left us a challenge – baptize people and teach them to obey. So if you are followers of Jesus then join us in regularly asking yourselves
- Are we baptising people?
- Are we teaching people to be obedient to Jesus?
It’s not about meeting in a house. It’s not about doing a certain model of Church. It’s about a shift in our hearts and lives that leads to obedience.
Over the last week or so the UK has seen rioters causing panic and fear across our major cities. A million and one people have offered analysis and ideas about the causes and reasons for these problems. Whilst all these ideas might have some value. It is not helping things to move forward.
I cannot help but look at how Jesus trained His Disciples to recognize and be the answer to problems. Two situations sum up what I am trying to explain…
The first is when Jesus and His followers are faced with the problem of feeding thousands of people with a tiny amount of food. Jesus puts the responsibility of feeding the crowds onto the shoulders of the disciples. He says to them, “They don’t need to go away, you give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16) Prayer is good. Planning is great. Obedience to what Jesus tells us to do is even better.
The second situation is when Jesus is about to leave the earth and is helping his Disciples to recognize another problem. Jesus is departing but the whole world needs to hear the message of the Kingdom and find freedom through obedient faith in Him. Jesus again puts the responsibility onto the shoulders of His Disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations………” (Matthew 28:19) Are we asking Jesus to do something that He has already asked us to do? He said “Go” 2000 years ago what are we waiting for?
A Disciple of Jesus is someone who asks “What am I doing and what am I going to do?”
A million and one people have commented about the riots in the UK. They are asking what the government is doing and what “they” are going to do about it. The response of a Disciple is always “What do I need to do?” For Disciples of Jesus Christ in the UK our hope lies not in the ability of our Government but in the obedient and gracious response of the body of Christ. Christ is working in the nations through obedient followers – like He always has!
So we come back to the paradigm shift that needs to happen. In most Churches the talk is about “What do the leaders need to do?” “What is the Church doing?” “What are they doing?” At conferences all the talk is about what so and so is saying or what so and so is writing about at the moment. Whilst it’s great to listen to the thoughts of others – it’s better to do what God is telling you to do. This is the Discipleship paradigm. Hearing God and obeying Him.
In the Discipleship paradigm the focus is on “I will” statements. “I will be a witness of Jesus” “I will obey scripture” Here in the UK there is a need to move on. We have discussed the issues. We have recognized the challenges. We have seen the huge harvest fields and crowds. Let’s begin laboring together with God to build a culture of discipleship and consider what we are going to do.
When we gather together with other believers let’s hear what God is saying to us. Let’s examine the scriptures. But let’s move on from that and commit to what we are going to do about it. The Church has traditionally focused on the accountability of coming to meetings and listening to the preacher. Let’s make a shift to focus on the accountability of what we do as a result of listening to teaching/scripture.
“Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them…….” (Jesus, John 13:17)