Discipleship

Making Disciples Jesus’ Way

By Rich Van Heukelum

“If you can see your target, you have a better chance of hitting it.
If you can watch an expert, you have a better chance of doing it well.”
—Source Unknown

My father was part of the US Army during WWII. One day I saw his uniform in the closet and noticed a sharpshooter medal. When I asked him about it, he told of the day he won that recognition. He had been firing rapidly and doing okay. Then his trainer told him to slow down and take time to aim for each shot. Effective shooting requires knowing not only what the target is but also how to shoot.

One of the great encouragements of our day is a renewed focus on the mission of the church. Taglines and mission statements ooze with “making disciples” and capture the essence of the Great Commission. So we know what our target is. But do we know how to reach it?

Knowledge Is Not Enough

James consistently warned of the danger of knowing and saying but not doing (James 1:22; 2:14). His warning reminds us believers that we often think we have fulfilled a command because we know and talk about it. In that respect, some might think they are making disciples because they can clearly state, and are active in a church with, a great mission statement. Pastors are not exempt from this danger of knowing and saying but not actually doing.

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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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“Now, all you have to do is…” – The 7 Most Dangerous Words in Evangelism

"...while the phrase, 'Now, all you have to do is…' aims to highlight the vital truth that redemption is complete in Christ, I believe it actually serves as an unhelpful—and, at times, even dangerous—Christian catchphrase." - Facts & Trends

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The Blame Game and Spiritual Preparedness

I do a lot of reading, as you probably know. Right now, I am reading a splendid book on the subject of apologetics titled, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, by Nancy Pearcey.

Unfortunately, despite the amazing nature of this book, the author makes the same mistake I have heard repeated time and time again: the claim that our churches do not prepare our youth with the answers to the questions and challenges they will face in college.

The reason for this lack of preparedness (I would argue) is not necessarily a lack of opportunity. Many students don’t want answers to questions (before they face a crisis), because it takes too much mental effort to think things through. Even if present where the big questions are thoroughly addressed, some may be uninterested and daydream the opportunity away. Such issues do not seem relevant at the time.

It is not until those students are pressured in college that they realize they do not have an answer, or that disturbing questions even exist. In most cases, answers are available—if you know where to find them. But if you haven’t learned at least some of those answers beforehand, it is easy to conclude that there are no answers. (Incidentally, this is why it is crucial for college students to be involved in organizations like Cru/Campus Crusade, Navigators, or Intervarsity; those organizations can often steer inquirers to quick and at-hand resources).

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From the Archives: A Resolution on Resolutions

This year my New Year’s Resolution is to celebrate New Year’s at a time more conducive to change and renewal—oh say, spring instead of the dark, dead of winter when I’m just coming off the sugar high of the holidays. Somehow I think we Gregorian calendar devotees have got this one all wrong.

Historically, New Year’s Day hasn’t always fallen on January first because our calendar hasn’t been a consistent entity. Factor in a few mythological gods, Roman emperors, and a pope or two. Add a dash of Protestant Reformation and you’ll find that in the past, the New Year occurred anywhere from January 1 to March 25. (Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 1752 that England and the American colonies began celebrating New Year’s on January 1st.) That’s nothing to say of the multiple cultures that celebrate it in recognition of their own calendars.  And if you really want your head to spin, don’t forget all our dear southern hemisphere friends who experience the seasons opposite to us and whose Christmas and New Year’s celebrations include BBQs on the beach.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in my experience, making resolutions on January 1 is a bad idea.

Because there’s nothing particularly organic about celebrating the New Year this way. For most of us, it’s simply a function of the calendar and happens primarily because we’ve reached the end of the month and need to turn the page (or in my case, glue magnets on the back of my 2012 office-sized calendar from Target and stick it to the side of the refrigerator.) Think about it—there is no seasonal change or religious celebration that would motivate us to make resolutions; it’s simply a cultural obligation. Or, in my experience, the result of the guilt from eating too much, exercising too little and overspending in the last six weeks since Thanksgiving.

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Seven Costs of Disciple-Making

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