Greg Ogden, author of Transforming Discipleship, writes: "If I were to choose one word to summarize the state of discipleship today, that word would be superficial. There appears to be a general lack of comprehension among many who claim Jesus as Savior as to the implications of following him as Lord. The Joint Statement on discipleship at the Eastbourne Consultation began with acknowledgment of need: 'As we face the new millennium, we acknowledge that the state of the Church is marked by growth without depth. Our zeal to go wider has not been matched by a commitment to go deeper."'
John Stott added his voice on the matter: "For many years, 25 or more, the church-growth school has been dominant. I rejoice in the statistics, but we must say it is growth without depth."
Chuck Colson said, "The church is 3,000 miles wide and an inch deep. Many are babes in Christ."
Do you agree with Ogden, Stott, and Colson? Why? What evidences do you see leads you to your conclusion?
A man that I was talking to once told me that before we do any planning we must know what the win looks like. He explained we must have the end in sight and know how we want that end (won) to look. As we discuss the church take a moment and journal a few thoughts on what a successful church would look like.
In relation to Christianity and the church, what is winning?
What must your church do to produce a win?
Jesus invites us to be disciples. To ensure that we are all on the same page, write your definition of a disciple.
What is the distinction of being a Christian and being a disciple? Would you consider yourself to be a disciple?
A focal verse on discipleship is Matthew 4.18-22. The focus of these verses is found in verse 19. Jesus commands His first followers to, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." There are three parts to this verse. "Follow me," "I will make you," and "Fishers of men." I believe we can use this verse as a template for our definition of a disciple. A working definition could be: "A disciple knows and follows Christ; A disciple is being changed by Christ, and a disciple is committed to the mission of Christ."
FOLLOW ME: The first part of the definition is an invitation to follow Jesus. If we follow Christ, we must come under His authority and direction. Read the following statements and chick the ones you agree with:
- I believe that Jesus is Savior and Lord.
- Following Him wholeheartedly frightens me.
- I have obediently followed Him since He brought me into a salvaiton relationship with Himself.
- I obey the commands of Christ.
- Trust is difficult for me, even with God.
- I'm in desperate need to follow Christ better as a disciple.
- I am doing well as a disciple of Christ.
I WILL MAKE YOU: The second part of the definition focuses on change. Jesus isn't a dead man or someone who left this world without a trace. He is alive and he transforms us into new persons if we follow Him as His disciples.
According to Romans 8.29 what are we being changed into?
How has your relationship with Jesus changed since you got serious about following Him?
FISHERS OF MEN: The third part of the definition deals with being commited to the mission of Christ.
Read Luke 5.1-11. This is Luke's account of the fishermen's meeting with Jesus. How did the fishermen react to Jesus?
Use the three parts of Jesus's words in Matthew 4.19 to complete the followin chart.
|The Invitation of Jesus (Matt. 4.19)||A Disciple is One Who...|
Reflect on your life as a disciple. Mark the best description in each category for your life as a disciple.
"Follow me" - Am I someone who follows Jesus?
- No one tells me what to do.
- I follow, but am easily distracted.
- I have good days and bad days, but I attempt to follow.
- I am sold out to following every moment of every day.
"And I will make you" - Is Jesus changing me?
- I am no different than I always was
- I make progress and then fall back.
- I can definitely list areas of my life that Jesus has changed.
- It is becoming a habit for me to lay down my agenda and let Him change it to His.
"Fisher's of men" - At what level is my commitment to the misssion of Jesus?
- I don't give up time or resources to the mission of Jesus
- I know I should, but I haven't wanted to step up.
- I try, but I still have times that I want to do what I want or I have been confused at times as to what part I play.
- I am sold out and using my time and resources regularly to make disciples.
Review the definition of a disciple. What aspect of this definition do you need to grow in most? Write one action that you could take by tomorrow evening that would move you ahead in that area.
As you read the account of Jesus and the disciples in Matthew 4 and Luke 5 do you notice a difference in the way that many churches attempt to develop disciples and the method that Jesus used? What is the main difference?
Do you believe that the model that many churches use to make disciples of Jesus effective? Why did you answer the way you did?
Before we move on from the discussion of the definition of a disciple, we need to note that Jesus called His disciples to join Him. He was not inviting them to attend a class or listen to weekly lectures. Jesus invited His disciples to be in a relationship with Him. They traveled together. They ate together. At times, He spoke to them as a teacher, and at other times he talked with them as a brother, but He was not just a buddy or acquaintance, Jesus is the Son of God. He is almighty God in the flesh of humanity. In John 15.14, Jesus says an amazing thing: "You are my friends if you do what I command." Be careful not to brush over His words. The God of the universe, our Creator and Lord, calls His disciples friends. God is our friend. He desires a relationship with you.
Take a moment to pray about what God is telling you. Write on some specifics that you want prayer for to help you follow Jesus better.
Read the following passage: Revelation 7.9-17, Hebrews 12:18-24, Titus 2:11-14, Colossians 1:13-20, Ephesians 1:1-14, Romans 8. In each passage note what you learned about
|The end towards which God is moving everything||The place of Jesus Christ in God's plans||The significance of Jesus' death for God's plans||Humanity's plan in God's plans||Why making disciples is important|
Why do you think many churches lose motivation and urgency for making more disciples of Jesus? How would you describe your own urgency for the task of disciple making? What about your church?
(Questions provided by Pastor Ricky LeMons - Trinity Baptist Church)