An email from a friend:
Concerning your insight on how church gets off track, and how the focus should be producing fruit and not building a church organization…
Christ is causing our church to take a closer look at discipleship and mature believers, and attached is a short PDF of the model I am working on for our class. What do you think? are there things you like about it? are there problems, concerning the ultimate goal of producing fruit?
Concerning your model.
The Greek word mature is Teleios which means that which is perfect, come to it’s full end, finished (we use the word wholeness)
In 2 Peter chapter 1 he writes:
…add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. …for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I think this is a far better benchmark for what you refer to as “mature believers.” (a term I loath)
1 Peter chapter 1, Peter writes:
…Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
Paul writes in Romans 12
…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
Paul also writes in Ephesians 4 (the whole chapter is worth reading.)
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect (Teleios) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ– 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
I think commentary isn’t needed here. The goal is simple (in verse 12) ministry is “better-Body by becoming “perfect persons.” This causes us to not be children, believing anything. This is how you get to Whole and Healthy people.
I have no idea how you would differentiate between “a seasoned believer” and “the mature.” (this is church gobbledygook or worse, those whose been there the longest or tithes the most)
All in all, I think your model is one of the better ones. Considering it is reactionary and an attempt to function within the confines of a broken system; managing people, problems, and mythologies.
The “Let Christ determine” part is a nice idea and technically correct. This will most likely never get defined or understood, and those in this model will continue to do most of the stuff they already do. (again we are the Body and should function plural, not just you and Jesus on your own.)
I would consider…
1 Corinthians 14
…Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
This is way more doable and tangible than the ambiguous notion of “Let Christ determine…” It is also a bonding, community, body builder. …And what Paul recommends. 🙂
Lastly, and I quote:
“Discipleship can happen through personal study, receiving teaching in a fellowship setting, and sharing our lives with other believers.”
I couldn’t disagree with this more. This is very much a sentiment that supports the work done by a guy who talks on stage at people. This is already in full swing at any church I’d randomly walk into next Sunday, and does nothing.
Jesus was asked how to pray by His disciples. Jesus says: God is King, Kingdom come, live Kingdom, avoid anti-Kingdom.
This is the point, the goal, the outcome we are looking for.
Discipleship in the NT, is done through showing. Jesus may have talked to his disciples, but in most cases, it included Jesus doing something for someone WITH POWER in front of them. Whether it was healing, casting out demons, responding to the Pharisees, feeding the 5000. The list goes on and on (read Acts 4-6).
Jesus came to bring about the Kingdom of God, we are to continue in THAT work. Build disciples to do that, to pursue that objective, preserve in the labor.
(I think of Noah building an ark, a mini-kingdom, a small destination of protection, salvation) it was hard; he was ridiculed, it seemed unnecessary. But it delivered. It was Life in a world destined for death.
Disciple persons to be builders, preservers, and rescuers.
Then Equip them!