It seems as if this topic has attracted a lot of attention. A lot of people are wrestling with the issue of discipleship, and how we go about making disciples for Christ. Some do this on a more conscious level, really thinking through steps, programs, etc. Others do this on a more subconcious level, where they are thinking through these things, but have yet to express them in words, or to have found a group of people to converse with on this issue.
With that in mind, I began last night, what will be about a 4-5 weeks series on what discipleship is. What is a disciple? Something very basic, very core.
I began with dialogue, asking the audience questions. When they were done, we discussed our answers and ideas with one another. From my perspective it was amazing to watch their faces, as they came alive in dialogue. Either they don’t get the opportunity to talk very much about these things, or they were really surprised that I had pulled them into the teaching “moment.” Whatever the case, they were ready to share. And it was great. We were able to come up with a wide variety of ideas, answers, etc. And each answer helped us sketch a more wholistic idea of what a disciple is. The totality of the dialogue really helped me bear fruit for the remainder of the night. And I was honestly encouraged by their insight into certain texts, etc.
After the dialogue, I then began to “preach” a text. Matthew 4:18–5:2. We looked at Jesus calling his disiciples, and the process of moving from the Sea of Galilee where they were called, to the hillside, where the Sermon on the Mount was given. And I talked about that text, and what that must have looked like. I raised some of my own questions regarding the text, especially the immediacy with which the disciples dropped their nets. During this preaching, I raised these questions, and asked for feedback, and again, the answers helped me understand more or less, who I was speaking to. What they were thinking about. When I was done exegeting, and preaching through this text, we watched Rob Bell’s video Dust, which gives a very different interpretation of the text than one traditionally has heard. After viewing the video, then we came back and discussed the video itself, and what we thought about this interpretation. Again, it was great to watch them reflect on our discussion, the text, and this video together.
I finished up with a little more preaching on Matthew 5:1-2. Eventually closing up with a few worship songs.
Overall, it was a great night. It was a very different approach then I am used to taking, but I felt that the involvement of the audience during the night, definitely enhanced the preaching and teaching process, and their involvement, also moved them I believe, from simply hearers of the word, to doers of the word(Matthew 7:24-27). They were simply not there to only listen, but to also ask what this looked like. And I think that involvement, and reflection, help one cement an idea, thought, or teaching, more concretely into one’s heart, mind and soul. It moves them into a place where reflection helps motivate action. This could be a leap, but this is what I am thinking about right now.
Summa Aesthetica and I have been having some good phone conversations on this issue. And one thing that has recently come up is the idea of “etiquette” in the dialogue process. Sometimes you can have a good dialogue, where there is give and take, between everyone. And sometimes, one person dominates, or even becomes hostile. So dialogue can either head down a good path sometimes, or a very difficult path. One never completely knows. Fortunately, my students seem to be great and respectful in dialogue. And sometimes not all questions or thoughts can be answered, and sometimes certain answers suffice as well. So “etiquette”…..just another component of dialogue, as part of the discipleship process.
There are many layers, and we will continue to unravel them together in community, as we discuss these things and learn from each other.
One thing that I was encouraged by last night was the idea from my students that a disciple was someone who was a student, a learner, an apprentice. That there was this process of learning that occurs between teacher and student, and between students in community. My students felt that as a disciples in Christ, the role of learning in community was vital. And I agree. That is why I will keep asking and raising these questions, so that we can learn them together in community.