Discipleship at Christ Covenant (Elder Update)
We are in the process of providing an overview of the topics from last month’s elder planning meeting (January 2016). The most significant categories of discussion were about discipleship, facilities, and leadership. Below, we are going into a bit more detail regarding the first of these topics, which is discipleship.
Making disciples is both the privilege and the responsibility of the local church. At Christ Covenant, “active discipleship” is one of our nine core principles—as members we’re committed to actively discipling one another to being more and more like Jesus. It is impossible to overstate the importance of the great commission when Jesus said in Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching others to observe all that I have commanded you.” Discipling is normal for a Christian, not an optional extra to following Jesus.
We continue to consider how we can better carry out this command here at Christ Covenant, not only through programs (institutional discipleship), but also organically as the great commission becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives. In fact, as many of you know, the verse could be translated “as you are going, make disciples,” which speaks to the organic or every-day nature of making disciples. We are to be making disciples as we go about our every day lives.
Ultimately, the goal is for our body to be making disciple-makers; that is, discipling others who will disciple others and so forth, just as 2 Timothy 2:2 describes: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
With that in mind, we continue to evaluate how we're doing in this area. We are thankful for progress in areas such as Bible studies, mentoring or accountability relationships, and most notably care groups. Approximately 60% of Christ Covenant members are involved in care groups and we continue to consider this to be a primary means of discipleship in our church. We appreciate the faithfulness of so many and encourage you to consider engaging in one of these areas if you are not already involved. There are two other areas of discipleship where we would like to encourage growth:
1) Organic or informal discipleship. Tom spoke about this type of discipleship a few weeks ago when he encouraged us to “seek the spiritual good of another.” Or as Hebrews 10:24 says, “Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,” which is effectively seeking the spiritual good of another. For example, this might mean meeting with someone to read a book together, to pray together, or some other informal activity to encourage and challenge one another to grow in the faith. For some this might be grabbing a stranger, but for others, it might be something a lot less frightening, like simply meeting with folks we already know and speaking words of encouragement to them.
2) Discipleship that reproduces. The other area that we’d like to encourage growth in is “discipleship that reproduces”. As 2 Timothy 2:2 says, those who are taught should be teaching others. We should not be like the Dead Sea with an inlet but no outlet. We should be sharing what we learn with others, both intentionally and organically, as a way of life.
This is a goal that each staff member and elder has taken personally. We are all meeting with one or two other men in the church to encourage them in spiritual growth by reading Scripture and praying together. We want, and need, to model this good work, and desire to see it spread. It's also something we want to encourage often through the preaching, adult education, prospective members class and elsewhere.
Our desire to put a major focus on discipleship is the reason that discipleship is a major part of Daniel Harman’s role on staff, specifically the task of connecting everyone at Christ Covenant in productive, intentional relationships, with the shared goal of seeing each other built up as disciples. More than just bringing folks together, Daniel will also make sure the equipping opportunities and tools are in place for these efforts. One specific thing we’ve asked Daniel to develop, with lots of input, will be a “diagnostic tool” of sorts, that would help an individual consider where they are in their own discipleship as they consider engagement with others.
So the bottom line is that we’re all commanded to be involved in carrying out the great commission, to be disciples and disciple makers. It is something that should be a central part of our church life. It should be part of our DNA. So I ask you to be considering and praying about how you can grow in this pursuit.
Question and Answer
1. What if I don't feel qualified to disciple someone?
Two things. First, you don't have to start by discipling someone, but the process for you may begin with simply the desire to grow as a disciple. A good disciple is FAT (Faithful, Available, and Teachable). Those are the only qualities you need to get started in the process. Second, you may be more qualified than you think. Discipling is sharing what you do know with love, not sharing what you don’t know. Don't doubt God's ability to use someone that thinks they are weak. "When I am weak, then I am strong."
2. What if I want to be discipled?
Talk to Daniel Harman or another staff or elder. We would love to discuss this with you and connect you with a group or an individual who will be able to get started with you.
3. How do I start discipling someone?
If you already have someone mind, just go to cccraleigh.org and go to Discipleship Resources under the Resources tab on the home page. Here you’ll find some articles and tools that would be great to get started. If you don’t know who to disciple, talk with Daniel Harman or another staff or elder so they can connect you with someone.
4. How should I decide who to disciple?
There can hardly be a wrong person to disciple. As mentioned above, disciple-makers should look for anyone who is FAT: faithful, available and teachable.
5. Are there resources to help us as we begin discipling others or being disciples?
Yes. As a compliment to the assessment tool Daniel is putting together, we'll have a selection of both approaches and tools, from the simplest to the more involved, to make these discipling efforts more approachable for all of our folks (go to Discipleship Resources).
6. What is meant by “organic discipleship”?
By organic discipleship we are referring to the informal activities/meetings between members of the body for study, prayer, mutual encouragement, etc. for the purpose of challenging one another to grow in the faith. We use this term to distinguish these activities from those that are established or promoted by the church such as care groups, Wednesday night activities, etc. (these we collectively refer to as "institutional discipleship").
7. I still don’t understand what it means to disciple others.
Take some time to listen to this sermon from Mark Dever entitled “Presenting Them Perfect: What It Means to Disciple Others”