Our last tele-conversation (previous two posts) raised the issue of “discipleship pathways.” How do we address healthy disciple-making (spiritual formation) in the context of simple/house church?
I think this issue has much to do with how we view the process of discipleship. If it is just information downloading (my old way of thinking), then it’s simply a matter of a well-designed program. If, however, it is about relationship, modeling, life and lifestyle transmission, well… that is going to be a different matter altogether.
To get my own juices flowing on this subject, I decided to review some of the different perspectives and approaches to this topic that I found interesting.
Neil encourages discipleship to begin in groups that are smaller than organic/house churches. He calls these small incubators “Life Transformation Groups.”
"This is a group of two or three people who meet weekly to challenge one another to live an authentic spiritual life. Members of these non-coed groups have a high degree of accountability to one another in how they have walked with the Lord each week, which involves mutual confession of sins as well as reading a large volume of Scripture repetitively. LTGs are also missional, in that they actively pray for the souls of lost friends, associates, and neighbors."
These groups, as you can see, focus on accountability, Scripture (lots of Scripture reading), and actively praying for the lost. Neil feels strongly that one cannot improve upon the Bible for curriculum and that helping people immerse themselves in Scripture provides them with the needed foundation:
"Do we really think we can improve upon God’s Word? Why do we so often give people our own teachings and curriculum rather than Jesus’ teaching? … The helps that are available to us are not sinister or wrong, but they are also not the seed of God’s Kingdom."
I particularly agree with Neil’s desire to see Christians learn to be “self-feeding” as quickly as possible.
Neil sponsors Greenhouse Conferences and the quotes above are from his book, Organic Church.
Wayne’s view of discipleship is far more fluid. Here are some quotes from his book…
“Jesus didn’t leave us with a system he left us with his Spirit. He gave us his Spirit as a guide instead of a map. Principles alone will not satisfy your hunger. That’s why systems always promise a future revival that never comes. They cannot produce community because they are designed to keep people apart…
“Just keep in mind the simplest lesson that has been repeated countless times since Jesus was here: The more organization you bring to church life, the less life it will contain…
“That’s where religion has done the most damage. By making people dependent on its leaders, it has made God’s people passive in their own spiritual growth. We wait for others to show us how, or even just follow them in hopes that they’re getting it right. Jesus wants this relationship with you and he wants you to be an active part in that process…
“‘But can we do it on our own? Don’t we need some help?’ Marsha asked.
“Who said you’re alone? Jesus is the way to the Father. As you learn to yield to his Spirit and depend on his power, you’ll discover how to live in the fullness of his life. Yes, he’ll often use other people to encourage or equip you in that process, but the people he uses won’t let you grow dependent on them.”
The value of Jacobsen’s writings is that he challenges us to stay away from formulas and remain dependent on our relationship with the Father.
These quotes are from his book that is available free online.
More to come on this subject...