Suggestions About Discipleship. By Kevin E. Jesmer 7-26-16

Suggestions About Discipleship.  By Kevin E. Jesmer    7-26-16


There was call out in the church for suggestions about discipleship and how to engage in discipleship. These are some of my suggestions.

  1. Create an environment of self denial, self sacrifice and picking up our own cross and following Jesus and seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness. People need to go out of their way to spend time hanging out with people they would never hang out with. This can be done with Bible study and prayer and example setting.


  1. Establish, patient, compassionate listeners. (Not official counselors). Make it easy for people to access these people and not just have listeners when there is a crisis. Maybe there could be some official office time set aside. It is not easy to be a listener because it takes time out of our own busy schedule. But what makes Christians different than worldly friends? Christians have the potential to be patient compassionate listeners. Remember, J-O-Y = Jesus – others- yourself.


I remember when I was on the cusp of accepting Jesus. Satan was throwing all kinds of thoughts my way to stop me from meeting with Christians. But I remember thinking, “How can these people be so bad? They are the best people I know.” I could remain in fellowship with Christians and a month later I became a Christian.


  1. Affirm peoples’ ministries publically. Affirmation is very important for people. It is hard to do this when people are doing ministry independently and basically bypassing the elders. But somehow the church needs to affirm them.


In one church I saw a lobby where people started groups based on interests. One person liked biking and so he started up a biking fellowship. He had a poster board. He led the group and people who also liked biking signed up. He was affirmed. He could grow as a leader of that special interest small group. But again, it means putting an less mature person in a leadership position.


  1. Affirm young people. Young people go to where they are affirmed. Even Christian youth turn to the world and secular friends who affirm them. Very soon, the youth that grew up in the home schools will be gone. How are we going to attract new youth to the youth group? I think the answer lies in affirmation. I think young people get affirmed if they are already Christian and faithful to the youth group. But the unbelievers and those who are babes in Christ might receive little affirmation.


  1. Give people the tools to disciple others. I think the small accountability groups introduced in 2015 were a good idea. That is an idea moving in the right direction.


  1. Invite people, not just to church, but to approach Jesus and hear the “Word of God”. When I was at the latest NEFC conference in The Pas Manitoba (2016), I heard one person sharing her personal testimony. She was praying for her friend, that her friend may come to church to hear the word of God. This interested me. We tend to invite people to church. We advertise how fun it is, or how great the people are, or how inspiring going to church is. It is definitely all of these things. But we need to emphasize that it is a place to come to Jesus. It is a place to come and hear the “Word of God.”


  1. The family must be the center of discipleship. There is an interesting article about what it means to be a Christian family.


The Image Of A Household Of Faith. By Dr John Armstrong 7-18-16

….This image of a household is one that should powerfully mark the church of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 4:17). The metaphor of the church that most of us think of first is “the body of Christ.” Yet if we read on, we then think of the New Testament church as a “family” (cf. Galatians 1:2; 1 Peter 2:17). But just as our little Armstrong family of four became a living and functioning household, as we learned to share our lives together, so each church is to become a household of the living God.

This image has been called an ecclesia domestica, or domestic (household) church. Many theologians in the twentieth century picked up the metaphor and developed it profoundly. One of the images that flows out of this theology is that of a family becoming a “school of following Christ.” This provides a rich vision of what the church is becoming. But the word household helps me even more than the word family. We can easily think of the church as a family in ways that do not connect our lives to one another. To live in a more complex and diverse household is to not only live together but it is to receive one another as our part in the mission we share as one.

It dawned on me, maybe thirty years ago, that Jesus’ teaching on the “family” does not fit with most of the modern American notions of family. This is especially true of those ideas of family I was given by my evangelical church background. Jesus’ teaching virtually exploded the category of family in the ancient world (cf. Matthew 12:50; 19:29; Mark 10:29; Luke 14:26). He said, in his kingdom, familial relations would be subordinated to the spiritual bonds of discipleship. Americans do not generally understand this at all. I saw this reality with my own eyes the first time I spent a month in India when I saw that if you follow Christ this often means you must leave your family and enter into a new household. This household is formed by bonds of love in Christ. The gospel creates this new family, a large and more complex household of faith and love.

I thus prefer the image of the household to that of the family. The central reason is that a household may be multigenerational. Yes, it may be constituted by marriage and kinship but, unlike a family, a household is not necessarily defined by race, gender or bloodlines. Christian households may include all kinds of people not found in traditional families. I believe the time in which we live is demonstrating this truth more than ever. Let me explain.

In a household we eat, sleep, bathe, get dressed, relax, and converse with others. We learn basic social conventions and the practice of hospitality. We learn that there are household expectations and whether we have been in the household for a long time, or we’ve just entered it, we are expected to graciously follow these expectations in love for each other. But in this household we also learn about committed and loving relationships, both in marriage and many other contexts. The household metaphor is bigger, bolder and more all-encompassing than the family.

To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be shaped by his teaching about the reign of God. It means accepting one another in love. This household is open to all. It can have particular “household customs” but these are never designed to be barriers to keep people out. They are established so that the household can become inclusive and outward.

I submit to you that this mark of the church is so important that unless we discover it we may never understand how to practice the gospel we see in a text like Romans 14:1-12. In verse one Paul says: “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.” Unless our churches become genuinely welcoming of the weakest and most broken people then they will never become true households of faith. Without this mark the church will begin to look very ugly and repugnant, especially in the modern world.

John Armstrong Act 3- 7-18-16


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