We have to agree based on what we see going on in churches when it comes to ‘equipping the saints.’ It’s called ‘discipleship’ – that is express it this way: Collecting materials and recruiting people to be trained in a certain day/hour for a year or three, with, if you don’t mind, with a workshop. More serious programs are so-called ‘Bible Schools’ today. For pastor’s to say that that is not discipleship is all about, “it’s about life-discipleship,’ well that’s not what we really see happening in churches.
Does “Discipleship Programs” have really discipled the saints?
I heard one churchy-guy today in speaking about ‘maturity’ says, “The problem is lack of discipleship.” What he basically means is that we lack ‘trainors’ and ‘trainees.’
Is that really ‘the problem?’ in churches today that’s why they do not grow in maturity?
Do we really not have enough ‘Discipleship Materials?’
Do we really not have enough ‘Bible Study Meetings’ to ‘mature’ the saints?
How about our ‘Sunday School Programs?’
Not only most Christians doesn’y know how to define ‘what a disciple?’ they are also wondering if they are one?
If Jesus commands us to ‘make disciples’ do we really know how to ‘make’ one?
The hardest questions to ask is, “With all the ‘endless’ ‘meetings’ and ‘programs’ that we have already in place week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year, do we really need ‘Discipleship Programs’ to disciple the person?
But let me offer you the better way I believe it make sense to you.
FATHERING AND MOTHERING THE NEXT GENERATION
Church is about relationships, “love God above all, loving your neighbor and loving your brother.” Without ‘it’ you cannot fulfill what is church is all about.
From that ‘relationships’ brings forth the intention of it – ‘family.’ Relationship that is close like husband and wife – it’s how Paul liken it anyway, Eph.5 – bears ‘children in the Lord.’
So, church is a family, it has ‘hundreds of mothers, hundreds of brothers and hundreds of sisters,’ and also by the way, ‘hundreds of houses.’ It is not an ‘orphanage’ where a child is ‘still ‘ an orphan, why? Simply, it has founders, directors, pastors and staffs but lack one thing – father figure and mother figure.
So, church is a family, it has hundreds of relationships like a ‘mother to her child.’ A family, you don’t have to ‘attend’ to be a part of it. You are. A church that you attend is not a family, but an orphanage. They may do what a family does; eat together, play together, etc, but it is still an orphanage, not a family. By the way, in saying that, I will also say, you don’t ‘attend’ Christ!
So, church is a family. Jesus doesn’t define her having ‘hundreds of cousins, and relatives and uncles and tita’s’ or is He saying having, ‘hundreds of Christian neighbors?’
We are a family. It has ‘parents in the Lord’ and ‘children in the Lord.’ – Eph. 6:1
So, how does ‘equipping the saints’ fit so well in the family concept?
First, is “He who manage well of his children, can manage the household of God.” 1 Tim. 3:6
Imagine, every dad and mom are ‘pastors,’ and ‘Sunday Schoolers’ of their children [I didn’t mean being religious on that], how ‘simple’ is it to ‘manage the household of God.’ Imagine our own children is well ‘submit’ to us, ‘respect’ us, and so we can be able to teach them ‘all the commands’ of Jesus – remember Duet. 6:4-6? It all started in the home. How easily we can ‘train up a child in the way he should do…’ and ‘equip him for every good work?’ In other words, fathering and mothering becomes works in a natural way – in the context of a family, who don’t just talk about life together, but also who are living life together.
A lifetime of discipleship v/s a lifetime of relationship
So called ‘Discipleship’ not only happens outside home, once a week training, especialize workshops, but they are also not meant to be a family, but a years event and done. We are not good at ‘raising sons and daughters’ of God but good at ‘birthing spiritual orphans’ who are irresponsible Christians of their life – they blame their pastor if he preach lousy messages, blame the leadership if they don’t like to submit and blame the programs if not good enough and so the best way to solve their problems is transfer to another church! Imagine that, froggy-like Christians can just transfer church they want without changing their lives?!!!
Family relationship are what’s most lacking in most simple church. They could not even name 4 persons to watch over their kids on a weekend when they needed to. They are meeting-based churches not family-based. They meet because there is a ‘meeting.’ Unlike ‘family-based’ churches meet simply because they ‘miss each other’ – they love and care enough even to transfer next door. Yes, they literally ‘live from house to house.’ “Behold how good it is for brethren DWELL TOGETHER in unity.” In a ‘meeting-based’ church they ‘talk-about-life-together’ simply because they meet once-or-twice-a-week. In a ‘family-based’ church they ‘do-life-together’ because they just live next door. “House-to-house” in the early church doesn’t mean they’re having ‘meetings from house to house,’ no way, but they are ‘living from house to house’ and because of that they can simply ‘meet’ together from house to house.
Building Healthy Devoted Relationships is meant to be a lifetime adventure.
Treating a new disciple your own ‘brother’ or ‘child’ rather than your ‘student’ can easily he become be treated as a ‘project’ rather than a ‘person.’ What I mean by that is, you cannot treat a person the same way just as you cannot force your discipleship course to anybody! Raising a ‘child’ to become a ‘son’ then to become a ‘father’ takes a ‘lifetime of relationships.’ That why church intention MUST be family. He lives with his father and mother, [imagine how a child would grow if he only sees his parents once a week?] they do life-together in a daily basis just like the early church. What could be more our pattern? No wonder Jesus fathers only 12 for 3 years and He can be able to multiply that into a thousand just like the fish and the loaves! Simple as that.
Disciple Class? What’s that’s class all about? Would you raise up your own son by the book?! Or by doing-things-together? Teaching in the early church was never in the context of a ‘daily-life-together.’ I know there are those who say there are ‘traveling teachers’ and I say, “Yah? Who are they if they didn’t build such relationships of trust and respect with the ekklesia?” I do not really care which ‘five-fold gifts’ you are, if I do not know you and your family, forget it. Many who traveled today in churches are desperately looking for ministry. I know this by experience. The best way to find out is through his own family. If they have one.
Paul might did some ‘training discussion’ but for how long? The longevity of having discipleship is, “How long?”
“Living from house-to-house” not having “meetings.” Family don’t do meetings, but they meet a lot. They don’t do ‘scheduled-meetings’ they do ‘spontaneous’ ones. Get this, how can we have Bible Study Meetings when you just live next door where we can have coffee every morning and discuss the Bible? How can we have Prayer Meetings every Friday night when we can just pray anytime? Does this add nor subtract your time? Don’t think so. Family does the ‘busy’ things together. They wash clothes together, they play together, they do market together, they cut the grass together, they plant tomato together, what else? It’s doing-life-together, not ‘talk’ about it.
This is FATHERING your next generation.