Urgency of discipleship underscored

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23749

    Urgency of discipleship underscored at Ridgecrest
    By Andrea Higgins
    Aug 7, 2006

    RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)--A "radical revolution" in discipleship training is needed, Avery Willis, creator of the “MasterLife” discipleship resources, said during the 2006 National Discipleship Conference.

    Discipleship is a relationship with God through Christ and a relationship with other people, said Willis, one of the featured speakers during the July 3-7 sessions at Ridgecrest LifeWay Conference Center in North Carolina.

    "If you just see it as a program or a course, then you don’t have real discipleship," said Willis, who retired in 2004 from the International Mission Board as senior vice president for overseas operations.

    "No wonder our churches, being led by undiscipled people, become stagnated and dead -- because they’ve never been introduced to discipleship, where the walk and the talk would match up," Willis said.

    “We’ve got to go back to the Bible and describe what a disciple is and not just ask folks to come make decisions or be baptized or become a member of a church, but to follow Christ,” he also said. “And then to say that means ‘deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Me.’

    “It must become a priority of the leadership of the church. It must become a priority of the church. The church is to make disciples. If your church were a factory what do you produce? You should be producing disciples. If you measure the disciples, you measure how good a factory you are. Or, are you going out of business?” Willis asked.

    Discipleship is on the decline, and many churches have just given up on a generation that doesn’t want to hear the "revolutionary message of Jesus Christ," Willis said, citing research indicating that the predominance of Christians are "babes in Christ."

    There is an encouraging side to that statistic, said Claude King, editor in chief of leadership and adult publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources.

    "Babes in Christ can be the most effective witnesses," said King, who authored LifeWay’s newest discipleship resource, “The Call to Follow Christ,” a seven-week study that outlines the six disciplines for new and growing believers.

    In Matthew 28, Jesus commissioned all disciples to reproduce themselves, said Jay Johnston, LifeWay director of FAITH/evangelism and discipleship.

    It is important to remember that Jesus never separated evangelism and discipleship, Johnston said.

    "I think the greatest failure we have in our churches is that we do not begin discipling when a person is saved," said Roy Edgemon, a former missionary and director of discipleship training for LifeWay.

    "They live without knowing their birthright. And their birthright is what they are in Christ," Edgemon said. "I believe when they begin to know Him and love Him ... everything else changes in their lives. But it begins with that new Christian."

    Bible scholar T.W. Hunt, author of “The Mind of Christ” discipleship resources, acknowledged that there is nothing easy about discipleship.

    "Discipleship takes time," Hunt said. "It’s not an easy road. It takes humility, self-sacrifice, placing the other person first. You will not become a disciple in one week."

    The original 12 disciples had trouble getting the most basic message Jesus taught, Hunt said.

    "They completely missed the point over and over again," but eventually understood, he said.

    "Our culture has become more and more self-centered. Our culture swamps us with personal desire," Hunt said. "This is why discipleship is failing. What matters is what position in the church I get, how big is my house or bank account."

    Reflecting the “desperate need of discipleship in our churches” are young people who see Christianity as "trendy," who are "spiritually passionate and biblically illiterate," said Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va.

    "I think we’ve made a serious mistake in Christian discipleship in that we are assuming the stupidity of the members in our churches," Caner said. "We assume that the kids can’t study theology. If they can sing the doxology, they can learn theology. If they can memorize the words to 7,000 songs on their iPods, then certainly they can understand concepts that are far deeper than what we challenge them with."

    DON’T FUEL THE FIRE

    Conference instructors Steve and Diana Davis gave the "challenge of the buckets" in one of their seminars geared toward deacons. Deacons were required to carry two empty buckets -- one symbolizing inflammatory gasoline and the other soothing, fire-quenching water -- as a tangible reminder of their role in the church.

    "Their role is to preserve harmony and free the pastor up for problem-solving, not to add fuel to the fire," said Steve Davis, executive director of the Indiana Baptist State Convention.

    Walter Wold, chairman of the deacons at Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Burnsville, N.C., said the exercise, though it first seemed amusing, turned out to be right on target for church life today.

    "There’s a lot of turmoil because we’re building a new church. People don’t like change," Wold said.

    "The gas has always been what is prevalent everywhere I’ve been. That’s why I’m taking water back to my church. But I’ve also got firepower to take back with me -- lots of information," he said, hoping to ignite a passion for the Lord and discipleship.

    "This week has affirmed in my own life that not only as believers but as Southern Baptists we have neglected discipleship," said participant Rodney Lynch, an interim pastor from Danville, Ky. "We’re drawing crowds but we’re not really equipping people."
     
  2. StraightAndNarrow

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    Amen. Too many professing Christians today expect a "Grace only" salvation with no born again experience and no change in their life style. This is totally contrary to what Jesus preached.
     
  3. gb93433

    gb93433
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    I see many preachers who treat discipleship the same way too. Very few invest their lives in leaders in the congregation in such a way that those leaders are actively discipling others.

    Several years ago I actually had a member of a pastor search committee tell me that discipleship would not work in their church. I was shcoked and told him that they did not need me then. Another church contacted me and asked if I went visiting. The lady told me that they needed a pastor who visited because the men were so busy that they did not have time to visit. I told her that I grew up on a dairy farm about 25 miles from there. Then I had my own business before becoming a pastor and found time for what I saw was important. I told her that if the men were too busy to go visiting then she did not want me because I train people to work and disciple others.
     
  4. av1611jim

    av1611jim
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    Discipleship

    Amen!
    But, as I see it, we have too many "discipleship" courses already. (like Bible translations) We do not need yet another way to teach men and women to disciple others; what we need are men and women to really get a grip on the root of the word "disciple". DISCIPLINE!!!
    We Americans (and other westerners) are too lazy and comfortable.
    We want the easy way. An earlier poster had nailed the problem when he said "Take up YOUR cross and follow ME!!!
    We don't want to deny ourselves. We don't want to be inconvinienced. We don't want to leave our comfort zone, i.e. easy chair with remote at the ready!!!
    I am sure that the only thing which will move us from this attitude of apathy is persecution. And I mean REAL persecution. It has been said that the seed of the church is the blood of the martyrs. I believe it.
    Yea, and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution.

    You CANNOT disciple another if your life is one of ease and ungodliness.
    Another thing I believe is that water seeks its own level. In other words, if the disciple-maker is a weak and ineffective christian, then his disciple will be also and at the first sign of trouble he will run.

    I really do not think our Lord is very pleased with us.:tear:
     
  5. J. Jump

    J. Jump
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    Not necessarily. We just need a pastorate and SS teachers to quit teaching the people that they can live anyway they want to and everything will be fine becuase they are "saved."

    We have to take the warnings that were given to believers and share them with believers isntead of writing them off as for unbelievers. And we have to quit teaching people that if we don't produce fruit that they are unsaved.

    Basically we just need to return to Biblical Truth and teach it and preach it!
     
  6. PeterM

    PeterM
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    This may bug some of the "preachers" on the board, but the problem is at least partially rooted in the idea that "discipleship" occurs during the preaching event or in a class room environment. As much as we call ourselves "people of the book" we fail miserably in modeling true discipleship, a process where one individual pours his/her life, knowledge, and love into another.

    The time has come for pastors and leaders to stop perpetuating the same old garbage that simply grows our attendance/membership and embrace the model that is modeled in the Book of Acts.

    Please pick up a copy of Herb Hodges book Tally Ho the Fox. In it he expounds the meaning of the Great Commission and how we have left the literal command of the commission. Also visit www.timothyproject.com.
     
    #6 PeterM, Aug 11, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 11, 2006
  7. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    Brothers

    Before we can pour our lives into the lives of other men, we must first believe what we teach. As they say in the computer world, "We must eat our own dog food." We have too many men teaching easy believism, because they do not believe the Scripture themselves. Just look at how many men in ministry quit, divorce, betray their marriage, steal, and the list really does go on and on.

    We as men must develop a better and a greater Christlike character. But, what passes for spiritual integrity today scares me.

    IMHO.

    Once we have our houses clean, then we can pour into other lives. Then what we pour into the lives of others is pure water and not just muddy water.
     
  8. J. Jump

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    I hear this phrase easy believism being thrown around a lot today. What do you mean when you say easy believism?
     
  9. PeterM

    PeterM
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    Discipleship is not an institutional work, it is an individual work.
     
  10. gb93433

    gb93433
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    When will our house be perfectly clean? I think that is a bill of goods the American church is sold today. Our lives will not be perfectly clean until we die. If a man says he is without sin he is a liar. There is not one person who continually does good and who never sins. The Bible is full of people God used who sinned. In fact some killed people and lied.

    That is where humility comes in. We can humbly reach people with the gospel and disciple them as any of the disciples did. When we are humble Christ is seen. When we are proud we are seen. When we become small Christ is seen. When we become big Christ is not seen.
     
  11. gb93433

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    I think it is both. Corporate worship is a group thing but personal discipleship is done on an individual basis.
     
  12. PeterM

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    One cannot truly participate in "corporate worship" until one is made a worshiper (read regenerated) by the Lord. While I do not necessarily divorce these elements, I certainly do prioritize them.

    If you read the commission in Matt 28, and actually begin in v.17, the work of personal discipleship is to be done in the context of worship. We must reevaluate how we do what we do and recognize how they are intertwined and necessary to one another. I think we need STOP divorcing one element of the Christian life from the others. Evangelism is divorced from discipleship, which in turn is divorced from worship.

    The work of making disciples (not converts) is the responsibility of every single believer, not the institutions we create. You use the term "personal discipleship;" to that I ask... Is there any other kind?
     
  13. StraightAndNarrow

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    Why do you draw the distinction between making converts and making deciples? I believe that it's the Christian's responsibility to do both.
     
  14. PeterM

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    As a SB, I can say without hesitation that conversion or seeing people "saved" is the "great goal". Conversion is not the end it is only the beginning of the process of discipleship. In that context I do not divorce the two, but I do draw a distinction between and vehemently state that a convert is not a disciple, as the ability of reproduction/multiplication is implied.
     
  15. El_Guero

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    Never, but that does not mean that humility is our goal - conformed to the image of Christ is our goal.

    Jesus did not kill, lie, cheat, steal . . . He is our image.
     

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