Tag Archives: Mission

Discipleship and the Body of Christ

Every church is faced with the following question: How do we go about making disciples, mature followers of Jesus. One way we try to do this at our church is by having a “discipleship process.” This process is intended to cover the basics of what it means to follow Jesus. The “steps” of this process are Worship, Connect, Grow, and Reach.

Worship is what we do on Sunday mornings, singing together, praying together, and listening to the preached Word of God.

Connect covers the fellowship portion of discipleship. We get together in “Bible Fellowship Groups.” We work together to apply the Word to our lives. We develop deeper relationships that enable us to meet each other’s needs.

Grow refers to those things we do which deepen our understanding of Scripture. It includes special Bible studies and the Sunday night service.

Reach refers to all those ministries that either directly serve within the church (like working on the building and grounds team, visiting our shut-ins, etc.) or serve those outside of our church (like working in Attic After School or putting on our Fall Carnival).

Put another way Worship means to love God. Connect means to love one another. Grow means loving God’s word. And, Reach means love God’s world.

I was also thinking about these components of discipleship in relation to a metaphor common in Scripture, that of the church as the “body of Christ.”

If we relate discipleship process to the body of Christ metaphor we can see, through a new perspective, why each of these is important.

The goal of worship is to strengthen our connect to the head; to Christ. A church cannot function if it is disconnected from Christ. He is the one who gives us direction and from him springs the life and vitality of the church. A church disconnected from Christ has lost its identity. This is one of the purposes of worship, to ensure that we are single-mindedly focused on Jesus and to ensure that we regularly enter into his presence through the Holy Spirit. When we gather in His name, He is present with us. When we forsake that fellowship, spiritual life wanes and spiritual direction disappears.

The goal of connect is to strengthen our relationship with one another. A hand cannot function as a hand if it is disconnected from the body. A foot cannot function as a foot if it is not disconnected to the body. A collection of parts cannot function unless those parts are built together in love. Discipleship is part and parcel with obedience and there are a great number of commands, like the “one another” commands, which we simply cannot perform apart from connection to the body of Christ. If you are not connected in a meaningful relational way with a church, you will be less effective as a Christian. If you are connected then not only will you be more effective, but so will those around you.

The goal of grow is to increase the fitness of each individual part. A hand is not effective if it is disconnected from the head (worship) or if it is disconnected from the rest of the body (connect). But it is also ineffective if it is itself weak or diseased (or, in my case, had a dislocated finger). A believer grows, becomes more spiritually mature, in direct relation to their understanding of and obedience to the Word of God. As we let that word take root and as we nourish ourselves on it, we become more effective within the body.

Finally, the goal of reach is to provide action and function to the body as a whole. Some parts of the body serve primarily within the body. I have internal organs which keep me healthy and active but which is not particularly visible to the outside world. But with other parts of my body, like my hands or my mouth, I can serve and communicate with the world around me. A body with no movement, no matter how well connected with the head, or within itself, even if it is physically fit, is still useless. Without movement, without mission, without action, a body will do no good. And a body with no movement will eventually become lifeless itself.

We need all of these elements in order to become fully mature in Christ, as individuals and as communities. How we do all of these things will be different based on the individual and the church, but each of these (corporate worship, fellowship, study and application of God’s word, and service to others) is an essential aspect of the Christian walk and of discipleship.

Advertisements

Church Values: Gospel Mission

Halfway around the world, fighting has broken out along the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. The violence has thrown the already volatile and troubled region into renewed chaos. Residents are fleeing the city of Goma.

Given that our church has a relationship with some missionaries who have served in the area, today (Sunday) we presented the church with an opportunity to provide emergency funds to provide displaced people in the area with basic necessities. These missionaries also regularly provide goats for widows and bicycles for local pastors in the region. They also equip local pastors to teach their congregations “the whole council of God.”

Our church’s relationship with these missionaries is relatively young, but we’re excited about it, not only because of the great good they are doing in an extremely dangerous part of the world, but because their values closely mirror our values as a church.

As I’ve noted before, the unique mission of the church is that of gospel proclamation, that is, bringing the good news that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God, and that, for any who will come to Him in faith, He will give eternal life now and forever. That being said, we still have the responsibility to help the needy whenever we are given the opportunity. Sending money to local churches in the DRC and Rwanda is a way we can meet that need.

We as a church value “holistic Gospel mission.” That is, we want to reach out to the whole person, both their physical and spiritual needs. Whenever possible, we don’t want to sacrifice one for the other. Some situations call for us to meet a spiritual need. Some call for us to meet a more practical or pressing need.

This is part of what we’re trying to do with our After School program. One of our primary motivations for starting the program was to provide kids in our area with a safe and fun place to go between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00. Local city leaders had informed us that this was a dangerous time for kids, where they could get recruited into gangs or get into trouble. We were trying to meet a very practical need for the city. But, it’s also a great opportunity for us to teach the kids about God – to present them with a message they might not hear anywhere else.

On face value – comparing our mission to the kids of Wyoming and our missionaries’ mission to the displaced in DRC/Rwanda – seems trite. Certainly, the conditions in DRC/Rwanda are much more dire. Nevertheless, the two missions come out of the same value set, a desire to meet the practical and spiritual needs of the world around us, by loving, serving, and proclaiming Christ.

Note: This post is the first of a series on the values of the church where I currently serve: Wyoming Park Bible Fellowship and this post appears there as well.