Through my many years of church membership, I’ve taken the bait to address internal hot topics with my brothers and sisters in Christ which at times have created a few fires that almost consumed my precious soul. While I never intended it to, it often blew up in my face! This is often the case because people are either a little too edgy when confronted with a different view or they see you as an intellectual windbag who they’re not going to let you get away with pushing your views. Of course, it could also be that I rub people the wrong way, but I’ll leave it with the Lord and pray that perhaps I’ve matured. The essence of these theological conversations was significant and, in my mind, worthy of address. We need to be concerned about what we believe and discuss amongst ourselves especially those items that have ecclesiastical significance.
While these past disturbances were unfortunate, there were other significant conversations that nobody wanted to bite on. Some conversations I attempted to engage in went unheard because of the fear of the rumpus that they felt may avail. Sadly, one topic that was almost never discussed in any detail no matter how many times it was brought up was discipleship. While most churches would verbally encourage the need of discipleship and detrimental outcomes of a lack of it, there was little time or investment made. What I’ve experienced is a lot of attention being given a new believer after their conversion and towards their baptism, but once they’ve experienced the holy waters, they seem to be expected to simply read their bible, pray, attend the meetings and tithe. Of course, they are also required to behave as Christians, and understand fundamental Christian doctrine (and in some cases teach it to others) but they are often left to themselves to figure that out without any real mentoring. It would be the equivalent of having a child and just leaving them to their own to figure out how to become adults and everything they need to know about finances. The expectations are high with little guidance to fulfill those outlooks. As an example, one of the most heinous outcomes of this lack of discipleship is the responsibility placed on the father to teach his family. Women were told to ask their husbands the answers to all theological inquiries and children are to be taught the things of the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:5-9). I’ve seen many families disappointed by a man who either knows little about the scriptures or theology or has little understanding on how to teach his wife and children. It becomes very easy for a sense of failure to set in even though he has had little training of his own.
Discipleship is what happens once an individual is saved and baptized, and it is a lifelong commitment to grow people in the faith. A disciple is one who is the learner and is taught about Christ and how to follow Him. It is the responsibility of the church to provide this discipleship and there is no need to repeat about what I said about the divine mission statement. A focus needs to be placed upon that individual and teaching obedience is not only a 40 min sermon. This stems further than simply being paired with an able bible teacher, they need a mentor who can meet with them, teach them in the form of a dialogue rather than a monologue, and guide them in their Christian walk. I don’t want to minimize the sermons at all since they are truly significant to the church, but they should be accompanied by discussions and most importantly by example.
The Mindset of a Humble Timothy
Discipleship begins with a mindset and a commitment. If we are disciples of Jesus Christ, then there is a responsibility to willingly be discipled. New (and even some older) converts need to be taught obedience to the words of Christ and the self-denial that is required to be a disciple. The purpose of discipleship is not a means of self-help for the new convert but to point to the self-denial. Discipleship is showing them who God is and how to live to His glory as a servant. This begins with placing yourself under a mature believer to allow him/her to disciple. That starts with laying aside all pride and placing yourself in the position of a Timothy rather than a Paul. Prior to taking on Pauline primacy, you’ll need to be taught obedience to the words of Christ yourself. Remember Christ’s words that the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great (Luke 9:48). The disciple is to humble himself and seek to learn long before attempting to teach. If Christ was willing to humble Himself, then we should be more than willing to do so also (Philippians 2:8). As the apostle Peter wisely wrote: You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5). In other words, be teachable and willing to learn!
More to Come!