That is a very passionate address and really all we need to hear to convince us to get on with the business of discipling. Niek asked me to talk to what this means for us as a body at WPC.
Many of you have heard talk of discipleship for a while now and some of you would have shared at Shaun Howard’s input on this in July. As a session we are fully committed to discipleship and are committed to encouraging and developing disciples within our body.
- Jesus demonstrated it to us with His disciples then left us with the simple command to walk beside one and other towards spiritual maturity.
Matthew 28:19-20 The Message (MSG)
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
- This could be someone outside of our body but it is important for this to be evident within our body too – a type of passing the baton so to speak.
- God is so kind in the way he deals with us because we are also afforded the privilege to teach what we learn once we faithfully embark on this discipling journey and as a teacher I know that as you teach you learn so much more.
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
- There is amazing kindness in this too – we are made in His image and He knows how much pleasure and joy will come from a discipleship relationship, however he makes it clear that the ultimate responsibility for the person’s salvation is His, Thus taking the pressure off us and onto His Son.
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
- Many of us have allowed church to become more like a nice club to which we are happy to belong. We are more comfortable to leave the spiritual growth and maturity of our church family to the Minister and maybe the church leaders. We pitch up once a week and cheer the minister on and often we feel good about that too.
- In denying ourselves the opportunity to develop and encourage our fellow believers and thus denying ourselves the true fulfilment, peace and joy that comes from watching someone develop into a deeper understanding and love of Jesus Christ.
The women of our body got together to discuss what this means to us. We all left felling inspired to, at the least; pray about what God wants us to do with this command in our lives.
We did establish that for each person discipleship will look different and that is ok. For some people it will be a very long term relationship, while others may walk for a season with someone before moving on. It is important, however, to set some boundaries and expectations to adhere to up front. These would include time frames, commitment to meeting regularly and to preparing conscientiously for your time together. We see discipleship groups as small intimate groups maybe two or three people, more personal that a cell groups. This type of relationship does not replace counselling, or prayer groups. It does not replace our care group or the prayer chain etc., it’s sole purpose is for us to take seriously the spiritual maturity of our brothers and sister in Christ.
So today I would like us all to consider prayerfully what God is saying in this regard, you may feel that you are being called to disciple someone or that you need to be disciple. Then I would like to ask that we all open our hearts and mind to the possibility of someone approaching you for this. Some people may want to approach someone directly, while others may heed God’s call but not feel confident enough to be direct. Please feel free to approach any of the elders with these requests and we will, as far as possible facilitate the initiation of these relationships. Please be sensitive to requests about this in the next while and pray carefully about your responses.
We have also identified two “courses” that you could use to get you started in exploring discipleship. The first is called Multiply and is the material the Shaun Howard and his church use and the other is an eight week course that takes you through the book of Philippians “to discover how good it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ, and how He calls His disciples to live for Him today” – it is called appropriately Discipleship Explored.
The material for Multiply is available for free off the internet from www.multiplymovement.com and the other we have available from the office. I am happy to take any requests for these. The other logistical issue is that we would like to keep a rough database of discipleship activities within our body so if you are doing this already or you embark on it in the future please drop an email to me and I will add you to that record.