Organic discipleship is so needed in the Body of Christ today. What we are now offering is a cheap imitation. The lifestyles of the saints and their impact on society is proof of it,
First let me begin where the Lord begins. Every motivation in the Kingdom of God must have love as its foundation. Love moved the Father to send the Son and it too must be what causes us to act on behalf of others, the Church, and His Kingdom.
The only organic (born of the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ by way of the Holy Spirit) discipleship is the one that is free from the contamination of the religious system. Any discipleship that is motivated by duty or fear and results in a systematic program of applied information for the cause of “growth” will never be organic. As we can see from 500 years of seminaries and discipleship courses the effects on both the disciple and society have been minimal.
In its purest sense discipleship is “come and follow me”, walk where I walk and observe the Christ in us the hope of glory at work. The fathers of the faith in the early church fathered sons in the faith and those sons fathered more sons. In the early Church all believers (disciples) could point to an individual whether male or female that they learned the “Christ pattern” from. For the record, you never quit being a disciple in the Kingdom because we are ever learning and ever pressing into the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.
One of the greatest mistakes of the Church was when they started calling their discipleship teaching the “apostolic pattern” instead of attributing the teaching to the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Chief Apostle. We conferred the Lord’s glory to mere mortals, men who could fall and who were yet in the process of being transformed themselves. This is how the religious system birthed the worship of Christian leaders (celebrities), their garb, gifts, and “position” instead of their proven spiritual track record not measured, human, worldly “success”. True faithfulness is only observed by a close walk that only exists in the midst of an ongoing relational trust over time.
As a result, true discipleship is not just sharing information, but its an impartation of the very life of Christ that works through us to do His will upon the earth.
Many years ago, I participated in a meeting organized by my spiritual father, Don Atkin of Mathews North Carolina where I heard David Shirkey share these words. He clarified the distinctive differences between teaching, training, and equipping.
Three Learning Systems included in comprehensive Discipleship:
- Teaching increases knowledge Teaching focuses on content
- Training increases skill Training focuses on the job
- Equipping increases capacity Equipping focuses on the person
The churches are full of people with information, but they have never really been truly equipped because they have never been truly loved.
My point in sharing this is that organic discipleship starts with number 3 and in the process will include 1 and 2. The religious system focuses on doing a lot of #1 but as mature saints with four-fold gifts we have been called to equip.
Let’s look at some scripture where we can see Paul reminding the Philippians to continue in his equipping, his example, what he lived before them.
Phil 4:9 Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. GWT
As I looked into the Greek words these four things stood out to me.
Discipleship is imparting the practical application, its imparting your life
In Philippians 2 he is trying to remind them to have love for one another and keep the unity in the Body. He gives them two very practical ways to see if they are really living these two things. The application is found in verses three and four.
The things you have learned that you now hold close and dear.
Until the believer (disciple) receives the teaching (publicly manifesting it with their action by practical use and public respect for the teaching) there hasn’t yet been understanding and there will be no resulting maturity. We, as leaders are not responsible for the disciple receiving it, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are responsible for living out the message of Christ in such a way that it is honoring of the Lords true nature.
The things you have heard along the way.
There must be a walking together. Proximity is important, but it can be done though some extent using technology by frequent and sincere communication.
The Greek word akoloutheo (ak-ol-oo-theh’-o) from NT:1 (as a joining particle) and keleuthos (a path); properly, to be in the same way with, that is, to accompany (especially, as a disciple):
The things you have seen from my example
If they never saw Paul putting others first, then there will be no equipping.
If you are not going to live out daily what you teach before a disciple, there will be no discipleship.
All the doctorates in the world will never make you a better equipper any more than all the spiritual information in the world will not make you a better disciple.
May the Father grant us wisdom as we join Him as He builds His Church through us. Much love,
Jose L. Bosque
May the Lord raise up fathers for the next generation in our times.