Why Not Here?
Like most campus ministers, I have read and studied many books on discipleship, being a disciple and a disciple-maker (see Resource) that flow out of the passages in Matthew 28.19 “Go and make disciples” and 2 Timothy 2:2 “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Disciple-making is at the heart of Chi Alpha’s ministry, and the byproduct is transformation and multiplication with increasing numbers of students coming to faith and maturity as Christ-followers. Groups that understand what it means to be a disciple and disciple-maker, whether they lead a weekly discipleship training course or conduct discipleship small groups, recognize discipleship is counter-cultural and requires priority and time investment, commitment, and sacrifice.
I came across an insightful blog by Ken Schakleford where he asks, “Can Disciple Making Movements Happen in Our Western Christian Culture?” His concern is that, here in America, Christianity seems to be sliding into cultural ineffectiveness and irrelevance. “We have church buildings in almost every neighborhood and yet there seems to be little transformative impact on the communities around them.” He states, “what we read in the Acts is happening now, in real-time, in some very unexpected places around the world.” [True disciple-making is occurring among Chi Alpha groups nationwide too.]
Schakleford does a great job of laying out seven principles that are common among viable disciple-making movements around the world. I am motivated to share his blog even though in Chi Alpha we have a working knowledge of discipleship and are committed to disciple-making. His blog captures what it means to follow Christ in a way that I have not seen elaborated and explains why applying these principles leads to similar results among discipling movements globally.
Disciple-making Movements Globally Share Seven Common Principles.
- Time and Money-
Discipleship takes time, real sacrifice. With our hyper-busy schedules, we must give up significant items to be a disciple-maker.
- Prayer and fasting-
Prayer and fasting are essential—a normal part of our sacred rhythms; fasting drives us into even more intense times of prayer and worship; we must alter our life and lifestyle around it; connecting us to the spirit of Christ.
- Valuing obedience over just knowledge-
Understanding subjects like taking up their cross, the cost of discipleship, and the commands of Jesus to make disciples and proclaim the kingdom of God is crucial. Disciples get into God’s word regularly and purposely. They are hungry for truth because they are active in sharing the truth. Their Bible study, usually done communally, takes all newly discovered knowledge and immediately expects practical obedience to be born out of that understanding. God’s Spirit teaches them what they need to be doing from what they are learning. We must change how we approach scripture and Bible study.
- Valuing community and relationships over individualism-
Discipleship is done through deep relationships and relationships are messy and, again, they take time. We will have to overcome our individualistic tendencies. Small (life, discipleship, core, family) groups are good, but they need to be purposeful and go much deeper than we might be comfortable with.
- Valuing transparency and accountability over privacy-
Accountability is only as effective as our transparency is. Living your life as an open book makes you vulnerable, and vulnerability is difficult. We live in a culture that values privacy and security on an extreme level. This allows us to keep our weaknesses and sin in the dark, which is the realm of our enemy. God has designed faith communities to hold things up into the light, where He brings forgiveness, healing, and growth to them.
- Humility and supernatural faith-
The mission Christ has given us cannot be done in the strength of our own knowledge and abilities.—Jesus sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, heal the sick including cleansing the lepers; deliver the demon-possessed, raise the dead, discern who God is working on and disciple them; and be vigilant and alert because the enemy is targeting them (we are lambs among wolves). These expectations far exceeded their natural abilities. The great co-mission handed down to us is just as impossible in our own strength and wisdom. We must view it as a supernatural work of God and humbly depend on His Spirit.
7. Perseverance and sacrifice-
Disciple-making is not glamorous. It is challenging on a gut-wrenching level. Perseverance is key. We too often want quick and clean microwavable solutions. A movement does not start in a day or a few weeks or even months. (exponential growth takes time). Following Jesus is costly. We must entrust our jobs, school, reputations, ability to provide for our family, our freedom, our lives. The life of a disciple-making disciple is not safe or secure from a worldly perspective, but it is good, rich and purposeful, passion-filled, and worth the cost.
This is a condensed version of the full blog. https://discipleship.org/blog/disciple-making-movements-why-not-here/