"Discipleship" defined. (And what is an intergenerational church?)
I wanted to define discipleship the way I mean it in my blogs and profile -- and I wanted to get an idea of how it is used in other blogs, to see if it means the same "out there" as "in here". And I found some very interesting things. The best was another blog published today:
It talks about the ways the different generations view worship and discipleship and the tensions of ministry to younger adults in a larger church -- and about what an intergenerational church really means. I urge you to take a look!
An intergenerational church will have real intergenerational relationships happening, and will also have all generations actively impacting the other generations in the ways we all see ourselves, the world around us, worship, ministry, service . . .
But back to my definition. By "discipleship" I do not mean "I have figured it out, and am living the way Jesus means me to live". I do mean that I am committed to keep figuring it out, in a community of others who are trying to be disciples too.
By "discipleship" I do not mean I am now living a sinless (or essentially sinless) life. I do mean that I am conscious of places where I do not live up to the standard (the stuff we have figured out, referred to in my last paragraph) and also that I know that there are many other places where I don't measure up in God's eyes or in the eyes of others to what would be "a perfect life for me" but that I am oblivious at this point to those truths. I also, obviously, do mean that I have failed in many ways -- big and small, public and private -- in the past, and I have repented of as much of that as I am conscious and have received forgiveness through Christ and am being obedient to Him (and the community around me) as I find new ways that He wants me to work to bring healing where my actions brought injury. I do mean that I am committed to being obedient as best as I am capable of being obedient, and that any areas of sin or failure need to be exposed to the healing light of accountability not only between me and God but also between me and at least one other human being, and that I will use every tool at my disposal to show appropriate repentance and growth, and to break any addictive behaviors that bind me. I do mean that I will not "hold onto" areas of sin and nurture them, either in secret or by asking others to help me feel better about them by not labeling something particular as sin because it must not be sin if I'm not willing or able to let go of it.
By "discipleship" I do not mean that I am in a different class than you or anyone else. By my definition, anyone who chooses to call himself or herself a Christian -- Roman Catholic, protestant, evangelical, whatever! -- is saying that he or she is a disciple of Jesus. But the power to live that is available through Jesus Christ to His disciples is something that needs to be "plugged into". Jesus' word, in John chapters 14 and 15, was "abide." By calling myself "a disciple first", I am saying that I am conscious that I need to make "abiding" more important than anything else in my life.
By "discipleship", I do not mean evangelism -- that is, not just evangelism. I do mean that I will live openly and transparently, and that I will be ready to be used by God in the lives of the people around me in whatever way He can use me. And that I'll be ready to let Him use them in my life to teach me in all the many places where I have so much to learn. (And He doesn't limit Himself to using other Christians, I have learned!)
By "discipleship", I do not mean something that I do by myself. Although I have my side in it -- my choices in my actions and beliefs and relationships -- "discipleship" can only happen in community. I am deliberately surrounding myself with other "disciples" who will teach me, learn with me, learn from me, pray together, serve together, listen together, worship together, and grow together.
I do invite you to watch me on my journey through this blog, and to share your journey with me, too.