Why We Need Deep Discipleship

"In Deep Discipleship, English contends that our discipleship is anemic; ...we need more teaching discipleship in our churches, not less. He notes we’re actually fairly competent at the relational aspect of discipleship (77–78); and yet, while community is an indispensable part of discipleship, it isn’t discipleship by itself (83, 96, 204)." - TGC

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Mark_Smith's picture

Discipleship is following Jesus.

Discipling is helping others to follow Jesus.

We need discipling so that there is more discipleship.

I used to think this was just semantics, but after reading several of Mark Dever's books, and thinking about it, I think seeing the difference is important.

Mark_Smith's picture

That too many Christians, especially men, want to look like they are disciples, but do not really want to be one.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I know this isn't particularly fair to the author, but I'm really sick of books telling pastors about "that one critical thing" they must do or else risk failing their congregation. I once told the congregation that, if one added up all the "indispensable things" a pastor must do and listed them, you'd have a list that would be impossible for anyone but Jesus. 

Now, I learn my "discipleship" is probably "anemic." Yeah, well ... I'd like to say more, but I will stop. Books like this make me sick. They do little but make me feel worthless. Away with them.

The Village Church Institute, English invites fellow pastors and ministry leaders into deep thinking about discipleship paths in our churches. Are we able to take the recently converted teenager and disciple him over the next few decades so that he can be our lead pastor without ever leaving (50–52)? Many, I’m sure, would have to answer this question with a sorrowful no. However, this question ought not leave us defeated.

Why on earth can't it ever be enough to (1) preach the word faithfully, (2) observe baptism and the Lord's Supper, (3) pray for each other, (4) make creative opportunities for corporate evangelism in the community, and (5) make opportunities to grow together as a family? Why is this not enough? Why is there always "one more thing" I must do in order to be "faithful?" 

Why is it my fault if there are no teens at my church? Am I "failing?" Have I "failed?" The "discipleship path?" I fear we're making something far too complicated when it's actually pretty simple. I will spell out the "discipleship path" from scripture:

  1. Attend worship
  2. Love your brothers and sisters
  3. Serve
  4. Repeat forever

There you have it. The discipleship path! Should I create a flowchart, have it printed, then post it in the sanctuary so everyone sees we have a "plan?" Would that make it better?

I hate these kinds of books so much. We're making this far too complicated. We're making the WHOLE PASTORAL THING far too complicated. Again, I demand to know when it became "not good enough" to simply:

  1. preach the word faithfully,
  2. observe baptism and the Lord's Supper,
  3. pray for each other,
  4. make creative opportunities for corporate evangelism in the community, and
  5. make opportunities to grow together as a family?

It is enough. It's more than enough. What do people think pastors are made of? Steel? Can we clone ourselves? Ridiculous.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

TylerR wrote:

Why on earth can't it ever be enough to (1) preach the word faithfully, (2) observe baptism and the Lord's Supper, (3) pray for each other, (4) make creative opportunities for corporate evangelism in the community, and (5) make opportunities to grow together as a family? Why is this not enough? Why is there always "one more thing" I must do in order to be "faithful?" 

Tyler,

My experience is the church in America is full of people who never evangelize. Never read their Bible, but pretend to at Sunday School. When forced to open a Bible, and the pastor says go to Matthew 5... they look in the index for where Matthew is.

What they do do is go to Sunday School and church every Sunday. They never miss a men's meeting. But it is all meaningless. They think "I'm saved. I love Jesus..." So they are good.

Conflate with that they are proud Republicans, own a house full of guns, and they hunt and fish, and they are practically perfect!

That's what I've experienced by and large.

Maybe you've seen something different.

 

Mark_Smith's picture

By and large, with one notable exception, my entire Christian experience of 28 years (saved at 19) is that most men think a godly man hunts, fishes, rides motorcycles or muscle cars, is a veteran, votes republican, and never misses church. But, they NEVER read anything, think about anything, pray about anything, or evangelize anyone.

TylerR's picture

Editor

You wrote:

My experience is the church in America is full of people who never evangelize. Never read their Bible, but pretend to at Sunday School. When forced to open a Bible, and the pastor says go to Matthew 5... they look in the index for where Matthew is.

The evangelism thing is true, because they've likely been taught a confrontational style they aren't comfortable with and can't do. I've never seen the "never read their bible" thing. At least, not from people who are engaged. Every church has people who are members, say little, attend but are like the furniture. One might never really get to know those people. They often don't want to get known. But, for people who are engaged (which has been the majority in my experience), I've never seen the "never read the bible" thing.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

I hate men's groups, because I don't hunt, don't fish, don't want to discuss politics. I hate women's groups, too, because my experience is that it just creates fights. I like biblical things ... like bible studies where both men AND women attend TOGETHER! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

With Mark that all too often, our "discipleship" really amounts to little beyond indoctrination in the approved culture at your church, and generally has little to do with the actual requirements of Scripture.  We can quibble/debate over what those are, but agreed that this is too often the case.  I think the problem often is worse in the South, where church membership seems to follow one's birth certificate too often, but we in the North are regrettably catching up quite well.  

And that would explain what the author is noting about the notion that we're doing a good job at the relational part, but not the Biblical.  As much as I would affirm that some of these things are caught not taught, if they're not taught at some level, what's going to be "caught" is going to be evangelical culture, not Bible.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

B Hawkins's picture

"In every generation the church as a whole is the product of the pulpit ministry; that is, it is possible to judge the quality of the preaching by the spiritual life it the people"

 

 

Bob