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Thursday, January 18, 2007

I Had A Dream

Following up on the post on Discipleship from the other day, I had a dream of possibility that was just fun to think about. I think I'll share it with you.

Imagine your pastor, Pastor Bob. Pastor Bob is in his late 40's and is a beloved pastor. So Pastor Bob reads my comments on discipleship and takes them to heart. He goes to the junior high group and asks who among them believe they might be led to be a pastor when they grow up. A few raise their hands. So he takes these under his wing.

Pastor Bob undertakes a serious discipleship project with these three guys. He spends time with them during the week. He teaches them the Word. When he goes to visit someone in the hospital, he always has at least one of them with him. When he officiates at a funeral or performs a wedding, at least one of them is on hand as well. He has them sit in on some of the less personal counseling sessions, such as premarital counseling and the like. He has them attend board meetings with him. He's serious about this project.

As they grow, they start doing their own teaching. As high schoolers, they help out with the younger kids. As they get to be seniors, they help out with junior high kids. They attend college locally for a couple of years and help out with the high school group. The church helps fund those who want to go to Bible School or seminary. Of course, of the original three, not all continue. Some drop out. But one, at least, continues forward. He comes back after seminary, is ordained in your church, and starts to work as an assistant pastor. He preached on occasion when he was in seminary, but now he preaches when Pastor Bob is away on vacation or out for other reasons. He is more involved in the ministry, being a pastor now. And when Pastor Bob decides it's time to retire, there is no need for a pastoral search committee. Everyone knows that our young pastor who has been discipled by their beloved Pastor Bob and been a part of the ministry all this time will be the next pastor. The change will be nearly seamless, since Pastor Bob has invested so much of who he is into this young man. His doctrines are the same. His goals and visions are the same. His love for the church is the same. And his love for discipleship is the same. He will perpetuate this approach. A perfect arrangement.

I know. It's a dream. But it isn't so far fetched, is it? And why wouldn't it work in other settings as well? Why can't an elder train young men to be elders? Why can't teachers teach others to be teachers? I know. It's a dream -- a wild one at that. But imagine a church where the leadership takes individuals under their wing to teach to be leaders, and where the older men teach the younger men how they ought to be, and where the older women teach the younger women how they ought to be ... oh, wait, that's biblical, isn't it? If it is a pipe dream, it's a biblical one.


Samantha said...

I've heard opponents to this "witness & disciple" view say that when someone is saved, the discipling should be done by the local church.

Is that enough? Is it enough to share the Gospel, and if God saves them, direct them to a church of local believers? Or is it our jobs as well.....

Stan said...

There are those whom God calls as "evangelists" (Eph. 4:11). These are the ones who are called by God to share the good news. It is not a sure thing that they were ever "hit and run" evangelists, but it could be. Look, for instance, at the best known missionary - Paul. He went, shared the Gospel, then stayed on to teach. He did some street preaching and the like, but was then around to be part of the local body for a couple of years.

Then there are those like Philip. The Holy Spirit took him to a spot in the desert where he intersected with the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip shared the Gospel with him, baptized him, then sent him on his way (Acts 8:26-40).

My point is not "No one should ever just share the Gospel and then leave them on their own." My point is that the suggestion that we should direct them to a church of local believers has failed miserably, and, in tandem, Christian discipleship has failed equally miserably.