One of the most glaringly obvious omissions in our discipleship is the person doing the discipling. While that component seems apparent, it increasingly is not. Our commitment to fleshing out our personal walks with Christ overlooks our need to learn from one another.
True discipleship prioritizes imitation over information.
Our shelves and devices are full of opportunities to increase our learning. We have more biblical information now than ever before, but we are desperately missing biblical transformation. I am not making a case that knowledge is irrelevant. We need to develop a biblical understanding more than ever, but how do we expect to learn the content to the fullest degree without some example in front of us? Authentic disciples first possess the Word of God and the Spirit of God to direct them, but both of those point to our need to learn from others.
By our efforts, you would discern that we think the acquisition of quality content is the key to our growth. If we collect enough knowledge, we will reach the desired destination. That’s why we focus on leadership personalities over leadership proximities. We resort to learning from the expert from afar rather than watching a mentor up close.
I believe our churches need to grow, but with any growth comes additional complexities with which we must consider. The goal is not to halt numerical growth but to ensure spiritual growth along the way. With more people, the nature of connection grows ever more complicated. The larger we fill our worship auditoriums with people continues to distance members from their pastors. The more video-based our Bible study curriculum continues to be, the more we rely upon the unknown expert rather than learning from the untapped person pressing play in the room. The more often we emphasize resources over relationships proves that we don’t think we need each other. Each of us requires someone a little further ahead on the journey to point us in the right direction.
We each have distinct needs, and we each need a distinct guide.
How would you answer this question – have you been discipled? Most people give a complex answer to that simple question. Apparently, the answer is yes and no for many of us. You have been discipled to some extent, but few of us have ever experienced the level of intentionality that we see in Scripture. Discipleship is taking everything you know about Jesus and passing it on to another. Has anyone ever done that for you? Have you ever done that for someone?
Have you been discipled? If you have been a part of a local church, I would affirm that you have been to some degree. By receiving biblical instruction and experiencing opportunities for spiritual growth, I would venture to say you have been developed. Have you been thoroughly discipled? Unless you have ever had a person say to you, “Come, follow me,” I am going to assume that a vital element in your story is missing.
What could God do through a church if we actually took personal discipleship seriously?
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.