Tag Archives: Great Commission

Rediscovering Discipleship – A review

rediscovering-discipleship

Rediscovering Discipleship is by far the best one I have read on discipleship, ever. This book, as the subtitle says is really all about “making Jesus’ final words our first work” (front cover). Unfortunately, in many churches, discipleship is more a program or something left for the “professional ministers” instead of something pursued and engaged in by every follower of Christ. One could make the claim this has done more harm to God’s church than any sin. Ed Stetzer, in the foreword, makes this statement: “The Bible tells us that we should be conscious of ourselves and of our teaching…In other words, it matters how you are growing and how you’re leading your people to grow” (p. 11).

Here is how Robby defines discipleship:

Discipleship is intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ. (p. 155)

Discipleship should not simply be a committee in a church, or even a program, it should be the life of the church. Discipleship should describe how a church grows, how it lives and breathes. Discipleship should be at the root of everything done in the church. If the ultimate goal and purpose of a program or event is not discipleship, what is it? For many, it simply stops after evangelism. After an individual is “hooked” they are left to themselves. There is nobody there to help them take the next steps in their walk with the Lord. This is extremely detrimental to the life of any church because many churches stop there. After someone makes a profession of faith they are left to figure things out on their own. But that is not how it should be, once someone has made a profession of faith, the work of discipleship begins.

The author quotes Heather Zempel, the leader of the discipleship ministry at National Community Church in Washington, DC:

The first model of discipleship that we see in history is the Relational model, which was the dominant approach to spiritual growth during the first few centuries of the church. It is built upon the premise that discipleship will occur naturally when Christians live in community with one another. Relational discipleship was vitally important during the early church because there was no New Testament and there were very few copies of Old Testament writings available to the common people. Spiritual truths were conveyed through the stories of the apostles and their letters to the churches. (p. 92)

Robby then follows that with this statement perfectly showing what happened to this movement, or the church:

Unfortunately, what began as a grass roots, relational movement eventually turned into a structured hierarchy that quenched efforts at discipling those not pursuing professional ministry roles. The common understanding of the church changed from being a people to a place, from a body to a building. The ministry was seen as something done exclusively by the clergy, while the laity sat idle and took on a more passive role. Institutionalized ministry replaced individualized ministry. (p. 92)

Perfect way to describe what has actually happened in the church throughout history. Discipleship is how the church reproduces itself and remains alive and growing. Discipleship is how God molds His children into the image of His Son. When discipleship is simply reduced to another program offered by the church, we suffer and the church suffers. God desires fully devoted followers of Him, not partially committed followers who only come to Him when life gets hard or when they need something. God is molding and shaping us into the image of His Son and discipleship is how God does this.

From the time Jesus called His first disciples to His crucifixion, Jesus was involved in discipleship. He was training them, preparing them for/ life after He ascended into heaven. This was God’s plan A from the very beginning and there is no plan B. God does not see discipleship as optional like many churches do. He sees it as foundational.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because it really helps paint the picture of what discipleship should be all about. It is not a difficult read but is encouraging and refreshing in that it explains what discipleship is all about and should be all about, and then goes into application by helping the reader understand how they can actually disciple someone. The last part will serve to be extremely beneficial for the Christian who has wanted to disciple but just does not know how.

Here are a couple quotes from the book:

Train yourself and your people not to be impressed with success in the church that does not accomplish the goal set forth by Christ: making disciples. (p. 23)

Discipleship has an end goal: to be conformed into the image of Christ – to talk the way He talked, walk the way He walked, and respond the way He responded. (p. 79)

Discipleship wasn’t a ministry of the first-century church. It was the ministry of the church…shouldn’t it be ours as well? (p. 85)

Just remember, you cannot microwave disciples. It’s a crock-pot recipe. And it takes time for maturity to take root. The wait is long, but the results are worth it. (p. 138)

Fortunately, Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, did not prescribe for us a single model of how to disciple. Instead, He gave us a mandate: Make disciples! He didn’t give us a single process; he left us with several principles and showed us by His own examples. (p. 154)

A church member once said to me, “your talk talks and your walk walks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” The way you live speaks volumes about the degree of disciple-making taking place in your church.

Rediscovering Discipleship is all about what the title says, rediscovering discipleship. If you are involved in church leadership, a volunteer, or someone who has just begun their faith journey, this book is for you. It will help you understand how intentional and purposeful God is with His children. He does not simply want people to place their faith in Him and then live life how they want to. Choosing to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him is just the beginning. After responding to the call is when the work really begins, and does not end until our lives end. Get this book, read it and apply it. You will be glad you did. I just think, if every Christian in the world were to take what this book says to heart, apply it and make disciples, there would be no more unreached people in the world today. Besides, what more motivation do we need to make disciples than the fact we are commanded to by Jesus?

 In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Media LLC in exchange for this review.


Covington…Here we come!!

Well, since my last post not related to a book review there has been a pretty big change in the life of thetoddlynn. My wife and I, and our daughter too, will be moving to Covington, VA where I have accepted the position of youth pastor at Temple Baptist Church. My new ministry will begin June 1st which means my time at Journey will end on May 31st. Marcie and I have had so many memories at Journey and while we are sad that we are leaving and will miss everyone so much, we are also looking forward to this new opportunity.

From the very beginning of this process, God has been clear that this is the next step He wanted us to take. Having lived in Covington for 8 years of my life from 1989 through 1997, I never expected God would lead me back there. When I first heard that a church in Covington would be looking for a youth pastor, my initial response was “no way!” Maybe with a little more emphasis though. However, as I prayed about it and sought after God’s leading, it became obvious I should send in my résumé for consideration. After sending it in, Marcie and I continually committed it to prayer and asked God to make it crystal clear what He wanted us to do. We were hesitant because of the ministry that we had at Journey and how we had built some strong relationships with the youth and did not want to leave that. However, the more we prayed, the more God kept opening the door and leading us towards Covington. Through this whole process God has constantly shown Himself to Marcie and me in numerous ways to encourage and comfort us that this was His leading, and not our own.

Marcie and I have had numerous conversations regarding what God might want for us in the future. I would try to encourage her that with the heart God has given us for students, we needed to be ready to go anywhere and do anything. In my pride, I really thought God was using me to help prepare my wife for some kind of move whereas; God was actually preparing my heart. As I said before, I never saw myself moving back to Covington. I constantly challenge the youth at Journey to be willing to step out of their comfort zone and share the love of God with those students they come in contact with each and every day in school. It is so easy to be passive in our relationship with God when God calls us to be intentional.

Intentional.

That word has been on my mind constantly in the last couple months. What do I want to be remembered for when people look back on my life? When I look back at my life, what do I want to see? How do I want people to say I lived? How do I want to live each and every day?

With intention, intentionally. Not just letting life pass me by but living intentionally. Being intentional with my wife. Being intentional with my daughter. Being intentional with the ministry God has given me. Living intentionally and sharing the Gospel intentionally with my words and with how I live.

The first way God has chosen to help me live intentionally is to follow Him intentionally to Covington, VA where I will get the awesome opportunity to pour into students of all ages, from elementary kids to college students.

One verse that has stood out to me through this whole process, one that I have tried to live my life by is Acts 20:24:

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God.

This is the ministry that God has given my wife and I. This is the course that He has laid out for us. We are excited about this new chapter about to begin but at the same time, sad the chapter we are in is about to come to a close. I am very thankful for social media and text messaging so we will still be able to keep in touch with the youth we have poured our lives into the last 2 ½ years. These last couple years really helped bring Marcie and I to the point we are at right now and it’s been amazing to look back and see God’s constant provision and direction in our lives. Even though it might not have come in the way we would have wanted, it has come in a way that has lead us to lean more heavily on God and learn to trust Him with every area of our lives. He is in control. God never promises us an easy life but He has promised to go with us every step of the way.

The other verse that has been laid on my heart is Matthew 28:19-20 which the way we have translated it says “Therefore, Go and make disciples of all nations…” The word so often translated in our Bibles as “go” really means “as you are going.” It has the understanding with it that as we are living our lives, be making disciples. Wherever God places you in life, wherever He leads you, make disciples. As we begin this transition, we go with that command, to make disciples in Covington, VA. So Covington, ready or not, here we come!!!

I pray this little recap of our lives challenges you. Not because we are great people of God but because we are people trying to serve a great God.

It’s all about the Gospel.