the weblog of Alan Knox

Guest blogger: Building a culture of discipleship

Posted by on Aug 15, 2011 in discipleship, guest blogger | 36 comments

Guest blogger: Building a culture of discipleship

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


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 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)


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

  1. 8-15-2011


    Like a lot of what you say…
    “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.”

    Amen – Trust and obey – NOT think and decide…

    I also would like to challenge some of what you say.

    There are lot’s of books and creative info today about “Discipleship.” 😉
    Did you ever wonder why this topic is NOT taught or talked about – in the Bible?

    Don’t know if you ever checked or not but…
    “Discipleship,” “Discipleship Training,” “Discipleship Coulture,” “Discipleing,”
    “Being Discipled,” are words and sayings – NOT found in the Bible.

    And, in the NT the word “Disciple” and “Disciples”
    are only found in the 4 Gospels and Act’s.

    NONE of the Epistle’s mention “Disciple,” “Discipleship,”“Discipleship Training.”
    Paul, with all the instruction he writes about for the ekklesia, nevers mentions
    “Disciple,” “Discipleship,” or “Discipleship Training.”

    And as hard as I tried – And I did try to make disiples –
    I finnaly accepted the fact – I had never made a “Disciple of Christ.” 🙁

    Oh, I did make a few *disciples of Amos* and what Amos believed. 🙁
    And, made a few *disciples of my denomination* and what they taught – believed.
    Or, *disciples* of whatever the movement I now belonged to believed.

    I did get a few to pray “The Prayer,” but… I never made a “Disciple of Christ.” 🙁
    Someone learning directly from Jesus. NO middle man. 😉

    Acts 20:30
    Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things,
    to draw away disciples after them.

    I mean, have you checked out the qualifications for being a “Disciple of Christ?”
    And – If we don’t even know the tough qualifications, and the blueprint,
    how can we, us mere humans, “Make a Disciple of Christ?”

    IMO – Trying to develop a “Discipleship Coulture” and “Discipleship” is NOT found in the Bible. And is actually “anti-christ,” an instead of, a diversion, from hearing from Jesus and obeying Him.

    I’ve come to believe – NO mere fallible human can make a “Disciple of Christ.”

    I’ve come to believe – Only Jesus can “make a disciple of Christ.”

  2. 8-15-2011


    I have always enjoyed your posts over the last several years and get where you are coming from. However, Jesus did say, “Go and teach or make disciples…”

    I really do get your point about trust and obey, but I can’t get past Mt. 28:19….Just saying.:)


  3. 8-15-2011

    Hi A. Amos,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I’m not sure I agree with you that the idea of discipleship is not in the scriptures. Discipleship is basically the process of helping others to hear, understand and obey God.

    Jesus told His Disciples to go and make more disciples by baptising them and teaching them to observe (i.e obey) everything that Jesus had commanded them. So from my perspective (for what that’s worth) I think the entire New Testament is about discipleship – people hearing the word of the Gospel and becoming obedient to it.

    If we are unable to make disciples then why would Jesus command His disciples to go and do something that was impossible…..


  4. 8-15-2011

    Hi Ben – Hi Jack

    Sorry – I’m just such a failure at so many things Jesus has asked us to do.

    Yes – Jesus asked us to “go and make disciples.” BUT…

    If you think about it for awhile you could probably come up with a whole
    list of things Jesus/God asks us to do – that we can’t do – try as we might. 😉

    How about the 10 commandments for a starter. I don’t do so well with those. 😉
    Do you know anyone who does? How about you?

    These few verses alone convicts me that I can’t make a “Disciple of Christ.” 🙂

    Matthew 16:24-25
    Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me,
    let him **deny himself,** and take up his cross, and follow me.
    For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever
    will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

    Luke 14:33
    So likewise, whosoever he be of you *that forsaketh NOT ALL that he hath,**
    he can NOT be my disciple.

    Never figured out – How do you get someone to “Deny Themself?” 🙁
    Never figured out – How do you get someone to “Forsake All?” 🙁

    Now – If someone, a mere human, is still thinking they can actually make a “Disciple of Christ” Jesus gives us the instructions on how to accomplish that – In the Bible – In just two verses.

    Mat 28:19:20 NKJV
    Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
    baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
    **teaching them to “observe” all things that I have commanded you**

    Simple – Just get a list from the Gospels of what Jesus did and taught.
    Then get a list of what “His Disciples” did and taught.
    Now – you go out and do what Jesus did and teach what Jesus taught. 🙂

    And what does it mean…
    “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?”

    Is that baptisim in water? Or… Maybe NOT. Hmmm?

    When folks were baptized in water – Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:47, Acts 19:3,
    they were always baptized – “in the name of Jesus.” “In the name of the Lord”

    Jesus loves me this I know…

  5. 8-15-2011

    A. Amos Love,

    Without Christ, we cannot disciple one another, we cannot love one another, we cannot edify one another… serve one another… teach one another… encourage one another… comfort one another…

    But, we are not without Christ. In Christ, we can do all of these things because when we are in Christ, Christ does these things through us… if we allow him to.


    I hope I never get past Matthew 28:19-20…


    Thanks again for the post!


  6. 8-15-2011

    Amos, I get what you are saying but I think you are making this a false either-or. Jesus told us to love one another. Are we just to chalk that up as beyond our ability and not worry about it? Turn the other cheek? Nah, no one can do that. Follow me? But Jesus I have this fishing boat…

    We cannot make disciples without the work of the Holy Spirit but the way the Holy Spirit makes disciples is by the proclaiming of the Gospel through fallible human servants.

  7. 8-15-2011

    Alan – Arthur – Jack – Ben

    Strongs – Learner, pupil.
    Thayers – Learner, pupil.

    “Disciple of Christ”
    Learner, pupil, of Christ. Someone learning directly from Jesus – no middle man.

    IMO – Jesus made and taught “His Disciples” then…
    And Jesus makes and teaches “His Disciples” today…

    …And they shall be ALL taught of God…
    John 6:45

    No middle man…

    Luke 14:26
    If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife,
    and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also,
    *he cannot be my disciple.*

    Other then Jesus – did anyone in the Bible ever make “a Disciple of Christ?”

    Have any of you ever made “a Disciple of Christ?” 😉

  8. 8-15-2011


    Correct… we cannot do anything apart from Christ, including both loving one another and discipling one another.

    A. Amos Love,

    Besides Matthew 28:19-20, which has already been mentioned, you can also check Acts 9:24-25 and Acts 14:21.

    None of us are talking about creating disciples of Jesus Christ on our own. I think it’s clear from Scripture that God works through us by his Holy Spirit to both create disciples and to strengthen disciples. We see both aspects of this in Scripture.


  9. 8-15-2011

    Since when is a real disciple of Christ someone who learns directly from Christ with no middle man? The essence of discipleship is exactly that being a middle man. Responding via mobile right now, but I will have more to say later.

  10. 8-15-2011


    Wow – two more reasons why I believe the ESV is a bit tainted and reformed. 😉

    Thanks for Acts 9:24-25 and Acts 14:21. But – the ESV is a little different than the KJV . 🙁

    Acts 9:25 KJV
    Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket.

    Acts 14:21 KJV
    And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many,
    they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

    Now what do I do?
    Do I just pick the version tht agrees with me? 😉
    That would be the Most Correct version – wouldn’t it?

  11. 8-15-2011


    I’m looking forward to your thoughts.

    A. Amos Love,

    Did you look at any other versions of Acts 14:21? It’s the same Greek verb found in Matthew 28:19. What did Strongs say about that verb? It’s not the verb “teach,” since both verbs are found in Matthew 28:19-20. It’s the verb form of the noun “disciple,” which is exactly what we’re talking about.

    By the way, do you teach someone on your own without Jesus Christ?


  12. 8-15-2011

    “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.”

    Hi Ben,

    Many people believe, when they have made that shift in their hearts to be obedient to Christ, that He is asking us to do certain things in certain ways. For example, it is likely you believe that Jesus expects us to baptize new believers. Suppose you do.

    Suppose you think baptism is sort of an initiation of obedience and should be among the first responses of the new life, done without waiting and without first taking classes. Suppose, too, you believe in the full dunking version (immersion). Just for the sake of discussion, suppose these are your deeply held views.

    1. When does this become “about meeting in a house. It’s not about doing a certain model of Church?”

    2. Again, assuming these were your views of what Jesus expects us to do, consider your reactions/responses to someone who strongly teaches things like: (a) Baptism isn’t for today; or, (b) Baptism should not be undertaken lightly, so one must first be a Christian for a year, and then must take a 12 week baptism class, and then wait for the next quarterly baptism; or, (c) Baptism should be for babies; or (d) Baptism should be done by sprinkling, etc? In other words, if you come to believe you know the mind of the Lord on something that should be held in common among all Christians, is that wrong of you to “push” this view? Isn’t that obedience, too?

  13. 8-15-2011

    Alan – Thanks

    You’re correct about matheteuo being the same word in Mat 28:19, and Acts 14:21.
    And other versions also use – made many disciples.

    Strongs says = matheteuo = be disciple, instruct, teach.
    Thayers says = matheteuo = to make a disciple, to teach, instruct.

    BUT – In Mat 13:52, matheteuo is “instructed” in the KJV and “trained” in the ESV.

    “…Therefore every scribe which is *instructed* unto the kingdom of heaven …”

    The challenge that I face is – In Acts 14:21 ESV – It just says Paul
    “…preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples…”

    Then he left… Does it say how Paul made the discples? I can’t find that.

    If just preaching the Gospel – made disciples – that would be a snap and
    we would have lot’s and lot’s of disciples today. That’s not my experience.

    Either we’re NOT preaching the Gospel, Or Paul did soething he’s not telling us,
    Or the KJV could be correct and it is – Paul… “had taught many.”

    In your exoerience…
    How many times have you preached the Gospel?
    How many disciples have youu made?

    I don’t find many today willing to forsake all, deny themselves,

    And Become a “Disciple of Christ” no matter how often a preach the Gospel.

  14. 8-15-2011


    Those are good questions. I hope that Ben is able to respond.

    I believe it is possible to fellowship with those who are in Christ even if we disagree on the questions that you raised (and I do have strong convictions in those areas). In the same way, I think we can disciple and be discipled by those with whom we differ.

    Of course, just because I would choose to remain in fellowship with and disciple together with those who differ in those issues doesn’t mean that they would choose the same thing. But, I can’t choose for them…

    A. Amos Love,

    As we can see from Matthew 28:19-20, discipling includes teaching, but is not limited to teaching. In the same way, in Acts 14:21, we can see that evangelism (proclaiming the gospel) and discipling can be seen as distinct actions.

    In Acts 14:21, Paul and Barnabas are the ones doing the evangelizing and the discipling. It’s clear from the previous verse (Acts 14:20).

    Yes, I have disicpled (or “made disciples”) through proclaiming the gospel, through teaching, through exhorting, and in many other ways. In each case, the Holy Spirit was doing the work through me. I was not responsible for the outcome. But, just as we see in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 14:21, it is correct to say that we “make disciples” when God uses us to do his work.

    My actions are never enough to make anyone a disciple. However, God works through my actions (and the actions of all his children) to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

    I don’t understand why you continue to make the same arguments.

    Have you ever taught anyone? Have you ever encouraged anyone? Have you ever comforted anyone? Have you ever admonished anyone? If you did, you only did so because the Holy Spirit did the work through you. It is correct to say that the Holy Spirit taught someone AND to say that you taught someone. We see both perspectives in Scripture.

    In the same way, we disciple people when the Holy Spirit does the work of making disciples through us.


  15. 8-15-2011


    When we understand that a disciple is one who sits at the feet of his Master, as a learner, we will understand that the Holy Spirit uses such to model what being a disciple means, and teach what the Master taught in a humble, teachable attitude ( as one who is still at the Master’s feet, and still learning).

    After nearly 60 years, I’m still a learner, who has been very surprised, at times, that the things I was so rigidly adamant about, are not what I once thought.

  16. 8-15-2011


    You ask…
    “I don’t understand why you continue to make the same arguments.”

    Because I like you and believe you will come to see the truth. 😉

  17. 8-15-2011

    Aussie John,

    Exactly. A disciples of Jesus is also one through whom Jesus makes other disciples… but we never stop being disciples.

    A. Amos Love,

    So… you didn’t answer my questions. Have you ever taught anyone?


  18. 8-16-2011


    Isn’t it funny how you can talk about meeting with other believers from other churches and everyone loves it. But when you talk about being obedient to Jesus (which is what Jesus himself called us to) it becomes a lot more complicated…..Just an observation 😉

    I am really not sure where you are coming from on some of your issues. Whilst I agree that we are not God and can never imitate (or would it be better to say ‘incarnate’) the righteous standard God requires with our own ability. Doesn’t scripture tells us a number of times that the Spirit’s work in us produces righteousness? (Romans 8:4) Like Alan I am actively involved with sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom with people and am making disciples of Jesus Christ. I make a disciple of Jesus Christ by helping them to hear, understand and obey Jesus. I deliberately don’t put my ideas or convictions on the table as I want to help them learn to feed themselves. Most Churches here in the UK are like nurseries where people come and sit in their baby chairs while the “Pastor” feeds them for an hour. And we wonder why things are not moving forward 🙂

    Thanks for the comments. I want to make sure I am understanding you correctly. I think you are asking about my thoughts on people who do things differently? Well this is my whole point. To disciple someone is to help them hear what God is saying to them and helping them to obey it. I have loads of friends who seem to have heard God and are pressing on with that. It doesn’t look like what we are doing though! Who’s right? Well hopefully we all are! I don’t hang out with some of my friends who are “worship leaders” in big churches all the time. But I still count them as brothers and we love each other. So I suppose this is what I am talking about when I talk about the Discipleship Paradigm. It’s about the whole body of Christ hearing and obeying. People label us here in the UK as “the simple church folk” or the people who are doing “House church”. It’s quite funny though – we really only got into what we are doing because we committed ourselves a few years back to “give ourselves to prayer and honouring the Holy Spirit” Whoops! That was a mistake. We don’t follow the simple church model or the house church model. I don’t even believe in the “New Testament Model” as there is no such thing. There is the “Let’s hear what God is saying to us and get on with it model” So I couldn’t care less about what you call it – the main thing for us is whether people are given to prayer, hearing God and obedience. We connect with Catholics, Methodists, Anglicans and others. What unites us is a passion and desperation for Jesus and to do His will. There are others of course who resist our extended hands because they feel threatened by us for doing things differently to them. That’s their problem I’m afraid….And with regards to Baptism…we just recently baptised our 7 and a half year old son in a paddling pool in our back garden. He was fully immersed and we felt he understood enough about Jesus, obeying Him and that His desire to be baptised was from God 🙂

    Enjoying the conversation….

  19. 8-16-2011


    Thanks again for the great post and for responding to the feedback. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), you got caught in the middle of an ongoing conversation on my blog, and it has distracted from your excellent post.


  20. 8-16-2011


    You ask again…
    “So… you didn’t answer my questions. Have you ever taught anyone?”

    Yes, at one time – But NO longer. I now tell folks – Jesus is the “ONE” teacher. 😉
    You have to get it from Jesus for yourself.
    I can only share what I see as “Truth” for me.

    There was a time that I was told I was a teacher for Jesus. A Bible teacher – and I believed it. I would study for hours and hours preparing that all important Sunday morning message. People even bought the tapes of my message and flatered me telling me how good it was. It was something having folks sit and listen to me for an hour to an hour and a half. And I thought, and was taught by my elders, I was making “Disciples of Christ.” 🙁

    But all I was making was disciples of Amos and what Amos believed. And making disciples of the movement I belonged to. I wasn’t making “Disciples of Christ.” People who could get it from Jesus for themselves. I was making them dependant on me. And I was lovin it. 🙁

    It’s a longer story but eventually I left “The Corrupt Religious System” thru much pain, tears and “Spiritual Abuse.” When you question the heirarchy about their questionable practices and beliefs… When you challenge their power, prophet and prestige… When you begin to see the dangers of “The Traditions of Men” being taught… It gets very ugly very fast.

    Christian-dumb is often a bloody sport.

    Of course the benefit to the “Spiritual abuse” is it drives you to Jesus. 😉
    And now I had to go to Jesus for myself. Jesus really is the best teacher. 🙂

    …And they shall be ALL taught of God… No middle man…
    John 6:45

  21. 8-16-2011


    And yes – Jesus told us to teach – BUT…. what did he tell us to teach?

    Mat 28:20 NKJV
    **teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you**

    Here is some of what Jesus taught and commanded “His Disciples.”

    NOT to be called rabbi/teacher – you have “ONE” teacher, Christ. Mt 23:8 NAS
    NOT to be called master/leader – you have “ONE” leader, Christ, Mt 23:10 NAS

    Kinda hard for someone who desires to be known as a “Teacher and Leader”
    to teach – “Disciples of Christ” are NOT to be called “Teacher or Leader.” 😉

    And NOT one of “His Disciples” called themselves “Leader.”
    They ALL called themselves “Servants of Christ.”

    If someone calls themself a “Teacher or Leader” are they a “Disciple of Christ?”

    Today’s so-called disciple makers will teach anything but what Jesus taught. 🙁

    Why isn’t what Jesus taught “His Disciples” important? 🙂

    So, now I tell folks – I’m NOT your teacher. Jesus is your teacher.

    I’m just your brother doing the best I can trying to figure this thing out…

  22. 8-16-2011

    A. Amos Love,

    You used Matthew 28:20 to ask the question, “What did he tell us to teach?” Jesus told us to teach all that he commanded his apostles (and us) to do. (Which includes “making disciples”, since this is also a command given by Jesus.) I don’t remember anyone in this comment thread or in other comment threads disagreeing with you on this.

    But, notice what you asked: “What did he tell US to teach?” He told us to teach. We are to teach. Yes, he is the only TEACHER, and we always – always – point to him as the ultimate source of all understanding as well as the ability to obey – but WE ARE SUPPOSED TO TEACH.

    This is not the only passage where we are told to teach. I could list many, many more. In fact, in this comment thread, you’ve argued that Paul “taught” instead of “made disciples” (according to your KJV translation). So, did Paul teach or not? Of course, he did. And, part of Paul’s teaching was to instruct others to teach as well.

    Paul even called some “teachers.” He said that the Holy Spirit gifts some as “teachers.” Was Paul wrong about that?

    Your arguments against people teaching or making disciples are self-contradictory when you ask questions like, “What did he tell us to teach?”

    You said, “If someone calls himself a ‘teacher or leader” are they a ‘disciple of Christ’?” Hebrews calls people “leaders”. (Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17, Hebrews 13:24) Luke and Paul both call people “teachers”. (Acts 13:1, 1 Corinthians 12:28) Were these people “disciples of Christ” even though they called people “teachers and leaders”?

    You said, “Today’s so-called disciple makers will teach anything but what Jesus taught.” Can you show me an example in this post or in any of the posts that I’ve written where we talk about teaching anything but what Jesus taught?

    You said, “Why isn’t what Jesus taught “his disciples” important?” Can you show me where anyone has said what Jesus taught his disciples were not important?

    If you are not teaching, why are you not following what Jesus commanded?


  23. 8-16-2011

    Thanks Alan

  24. 8-16-2011


    You write…

    Alan – If you are yelling at me – I apologize. Please forgive me.

    And I apologize for using “so-called disciple makers.”
    I wasn’t referring to you or the folks commenting on this blog.
    I comment on a lot of IC blogs and deal with the – Pastors in puplpits – model.

    This place is wonderful – being able to discuss difficut and sensitive topics.

    I believe most here are seeking Jesus… seeking truth… 🙂

    Conflict has a benefit – It drives us all closer to Jesus…

    Yes – Hebrews calls people leaders. But we know that hegeomai and proistemi
    have a different flavor then today’s “Leader” – I’m the boss, obey me.

    And I can’t find one “Disciple of Christ” who called themself “Leader.”
    Or was called “Leader” by another “Disciple of Christ.”

    Yes – We are to teach – teach what Jesus commanded “His Disciples.”
    Disciples of Christ are NOT to be called teacher. 😉

    And teachers are mentioned in the NT. But…
    Did anyone, but Paul, *call themself* a teacher? That’s all I find in the KJV.


  25. 8-16-2011

    A. Amos Love,

    No, the caps did not represent yelling, but emphasis. There is no reason for you to apologize.

    I also comment on and write about the pastor/pulpit model. I do not endorse it at all.

    Most of the words we write about today have a different flavor than the way the terms are used in Scripture. That doesn’t make them bad terms; it means we must define them. That’s why I constantly define the terms I use, like “leader”.

    No one here (as far as I know) has asked to be called by any title, like “leader” or “teacher”. In fact, I always ask people to call me Alan.

    I appreciate your interaction. But, I would appreciate it even more if you interact with the content, posts, and comments here. I think it would be much more beneficial to the body of Christ.


  26. 8-16-2011


    Wanted you to know I did appreciate your post. Thanks for your insights

    And there is much agreement when you write…
    “I make a disciple of Jesus Christ by helping them to hear, understand and obey Jesus. I deliberately don’t put my ideas or convictions on the table as I want to help them learn to feed themselves.”

    Me too – My desire is to see believers feeding themselves. Go direct to Jesus.

    IMO – Human Leader/Teachers can come between believers and their God.
    It happened to me. Favorite authors. Favorite mentors. Favorite pastors.
    Listening to and elevating humans… Putting them on a pedistal….
    Wanting to be like them… Going to a human and NOT going to Jesus…
    Quoting famous authors. Quoting famous pastors. NOT quoting Jesus. 🙁
    I finally had to go direct to Jesus… He’s the best… 😉

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – Jesus

  27. 8-16-2011

    Hi Ben,

    You said, “I think you are asking about my thoughts on people who do things differently?” Hmm. Yeah, I guess it came out that way, but it was poorly phrased and wasn’t what I was asking about. What made me ask questions was this point you made: “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.”

    Let me try to reframe the question this way. Some believe they have and do hear His voice. Some of the things they believe they hear apply to the church generally, and so they become committed to these things (and they may well be correct or they may be mistaken or only partially hearing correctly). Like, baptism (and “teaching people to obey Jesus”). (I used the example of baptism, since you used it as measuring stick and a call to action/accountability.)

    Here’s my point: Sometimes people are committed to certain understandings because they presently have life and relationship with Jesus in them, and sometimes it is because they once heard–or worse, someone they respect once heard–and now their loyalty and commitment has shifted from Christ to the understandings. They are now, “baptize and teach obedience to Jesus” people but now it is stale and lifeless.

    What I wanted to ask was how you guard against this, how you recognize it in yourself, how you relate to strong advocates (when some are this way from life with Jesus, and some are not)?

    This would be so much more fun and easier over iced tea and chilidogs…

  28. 8-16-2011

    I’m glad this discussion is continuing into the content of the post…


  29. 8-16-2011

    I’m glad that you’re glad… 😉

  30. 8-16-2011

    Hi Art,

    I’m from the UK. What’s a chilli dog?

    I’d be happy to respond to your questions as it is obviously something you are thinking through.

    I can really only speak in terms of the contexts that I have experience of (UK and a few other nations) Throughout history God has spoken to people and they have planted the Gospel and seen the Kingdom advancing in their time/culture/generation. It makes me laugh that what was considered radical in it’s day is now obsolete. Take the Methodist Movement here in the UK. In it’s time it was fresh, timely and a direct response of people responding to the Spirit of God. Nowadays all the old chapel buildings are empty or have been changed to houses and shops. There’s something about wine and wineskins. With the folk we work with here in the UK we are passionate about what we feel God is saying for now. But we keep a check on ourselves to make sure that we are already making room for what God is bringing up afterwards. Our children will laugh at what we did with God because it will seem irrelevant to them and their generation/culture.

    And this brings us back again to the whole idea of planting the gospel and making disciples rather than being in love with a certain form, tradition or practice of Church. The shape of what we are doing is not important – what is important is what goes into it. I am not really into house church, simple church, organic church although I like elements of them all. I am simply a disciple of Jesus who, along with my family are looking to help others get to know Jesus and obey Him. We have chosen to use the word “simple church” as a way of describing what we do because the majority of people would get completely the wrong idea if we just said Church.

    I have sought to maintain friendships with people of other giftings and in other streams of what God is doing. I love this because it keeps me from being focused with what I am doing and reminds me that I’m not the only one who is doing their best to obey Him 😉

    So…how do we prevent staleness in what we are doing. Well we intentionally (and I really mean that we ask ourselves every day)measure and assess what we are doing. We have people who speak into our lives and what we are doing. The reality though is that what we are doing is for now. There’ll be others who will hopefully build on what we are doing – just as we are building on the work of other faithful brothers and sisters. We would hope that (as some folks in the US say)that by raising the bar of discipleship and lowering the bar of what it means to do church we would magnify the aspect of people hearing God for today and lessen the attachments and loyalty to “how” we are doing it. Compare this with most churches who seem to have lowered the bar of discipleship yet raised the bar of how we do church. As a result we have millions of “Christians” who have been taught to follow the Pastor and the “Church Rules” rather than to hear and obey the voice of God….

    And finally…how do I recognize it in myself? Well when I meet with others (without a building, a pulpit or any rows of chairs) people ask me whatever they want. I can’t hide behind a ministry or a position. People are in my face checking to see if I am genuine. And I ask people to challenge me and ask me questions. I would hope that – just like anyone else – that if I am exposing myself to the scriptures every day, committing myself to hearing God through them and making myself accountable to obey them with others then despite the challenges God will help me! In fact I would say that the way we are doing things is actually much better than the traditional way of being church because most of the focus is on being vulnerable and accountable to the process of hearing, obeying and sharing the word of God in our lives.

    Even today I had a guy come to me who is part of our church (we meet in our home on a Saturday night as well as meeting informally and spontaneously on other days)He had visited a more traditional church in the area. To be honest a few years ago I would have got terribly insecure about this. He said how he had felt really amazing during the time of worship and how good it felt. I encouraged him that if he felt that God was leading Him to get involved with that other traditional type church then that’s what He should do. I was very upfront with him about what we are doing and what we feel God has asked us to do. I explained that I felt the scriptures encourage a disciple to commit to hear and obey the scriptures in community. This friend will make his choice. I fear for his spiritual growth (or lack of it) in this other church but He has to make his choice. It might feel good to have all the worship and the music and the feelings. That isn’t going to help you obey though.

    Jesus did this by presenting the cost of discipleship to people. They then followed Him or turned away. Anyone who the Father didn’t draw to the son didn’t want to count the cost. I fear many in traditional churches are just feeling good but if they were presented with the cost of discipleship through regular reading of scripture and having some method of group accountability then they wouldn’t want to do it. What does this say about our Churches?

    Does that go some way in answering your questions Art?


  31. 8-17-2011


    There would be one reason why we would not obey Jesus command to make disciples and teach them: If we believed in universalism.

  32. 8-17-2011

    Hi Ben,

    A “chili-dog” is a hot dog in a bun covered with chili (and usually with onions and cheese thrown on top of that). Very “comfort” food sort of thing, usually associated with casual friends and fun.

    And yes, this explanation was very helpful in responding to my questions. Besides the Methodists, another once-fresh movement from England that soon enough fossilized was the Plymouth Brethren.

    I’m very aware of some of these dangers–of moving from life with Jesus to hanging onto memories of a once fresh love that has become cold, leaving only love letters in a box, the contents of which we tell everyone they must follow. Your friend who was emotionally moved by the singing in a “worship service” and found this more compelling than His voice whispered softly. The throngs who will follow a person they can see how ever far off track they go because we are so easily given to following someone with charisma, someone we can entrust to lead while we comfortably follow and encourage their acclaim. Or, an independent spirit that doesn’t want any restraints or constraints, preferring to walk this way and that, follow this whim then another. All of these things are so easily fallen into and we can so easily get swept away. I fear these as though I were walking across a mine field in the dark. It does seem that historically, every freshness eventually succumbed to these pitfalls.

    I know He is greater than all these and that He will unfailingly call us, correct us, and guide us. I know He is greater than my weaknesses. Still, I know how easily I am distracted.

    Ben, this was very helpful. Thank you for posting and interacting in some practical ways.

  33. 8-17-2011

    Ben and Art,

    Thanks! Very good dialog.


  34. 8-18-2011


    Good to talk my friend. Will have to try a chilli dog one day



  35. 3-20-2012

    I’ve heard is said heresy is often just truth overstated. What I’m getting at is that in some circles a certain concept of discipleship is over emphasized to the point we minimize the truth of the indwelling life of christ.
    Discipleship can be unfortunately reduced to hear and study what todo then apply ones will to the task along with the holy spirits help. Now that is a whole lot better than no desire to hear or obey but its just the beginning.
    As Amos said above it should be telling that beyond the Acts and gospels there is very little talk of making disciples. That is not because its not important, rather because maybe guys like Paul have something greater and more all encompassing in mind.
    Once again the problem is not with discipleship, its the emphasis and approach. One example is the fact we have a myriad of well meaning ‘leaders’ in the church who aren’t actually doing the same works of the first disciples but have set themselves up to teach everyone else. Too many people trying to get others to learn instead of also being a learner… in other words those who want to disciple and those who want to be discipled… a real shame.
    To use the language of the blogpost… i believe though its a good start to say “I will…” it has to be move to “He will through us…” which a revelation and way of living that had to unveiled through paul for the most part… though it was all there in jesus’ own words.
    great article thanks!

  36. 3-21-2012


    To me, making disciples is simply helping one another live “the indwelling life of Christ.” This is found throughout the New Testament, not just in the Gospels and Acts. I completely agree that helping others walk with Christ must include being willing to learn (and change/grow) ourselves.