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According to Jesus, the answer for changing the world is not an organized religious system nor is it a particular outline of teachings. Jesus mandated one way for changing the world-to make disciples or followers of Jesus in all nations. The process of discipleship makes the presence of Jesus possible in every nation of the world and is the best possibility for peace and reconciliation everywhere.
If discipleship is so vital to changing the world, then why is it so rare among those who claim to follow Jesus. Here are 4 observations: 1. There is a need to be deprogrammed from what we’ve been taught. Most people, who have grown up in a religious setting, have been programmed wrongly. Most believe the process of discipleship is about passing on information. Therefore, to me, the process of discipleship was always performed in the classroom-the better the information taught, the better the disciple. If we are going to make disciples, we must stop this kind of thinking.
2. Discipleship is caught, not taught. The process of discipleship takes lots of time. Jesus’ process of discipleship was to take his disciples on a variety of field trips-outside the classroom. This allows a follower to observe, discuss and ask questions along the way.
3. Discipleship is not one person teaching and a group listening. Participators, not spectators, are required for the process of discipleship to be effective. Jesus warned us not to call anyone “teacher” or “rabbi” or “father” or “leader”, because of this misunderstanding. When followers come together, they gather to hear from one teacher-Jesus. Jesus is heard and absorbed within the conversation of a little group.
4. Discipleship always takes more time than you think you have. In my opinion, this discourages more people away from the process of discipleship. It takes so much time! It’s so much easier to teach a class or to have a person read something, commit them to memorizing bible verses, or be able to mimic the basic beliefs within your fellowship. Discipleship happens when Jesus followers spend an extensive amount of time in interactive conversation about their personal experience, strength, and hope they are finding in Jesus. Discipleship can’t happen in a Church service, at an annual event, in a weekend seminar, or online. This is the primary reason why discipleship is so rare and why followers of Jesus are unable to change the world.
The discipleship factor is the missing link, even within the popular small group movement around the world. Most small group materials produced today have one of three underlying purposes: (1) To make people better Christians. (2) To add members to your Church. (3) To pass on good information. Jesus had a better idea! We’ll talk about it tomorrow.