what is a disciple?


last weekend i spent a few hours with devon s  flying to rome, new york to officiate his wedding. we talked about quite a few things but ended up focusing on asking what is discipleship. you see i believe that to a large extent the modern western church has misunderstood discipleship. i believe we have primarily understood discipleship as an intellectual exercise. we have treated discipleship as a series of bible studies.

please don’t get me wrong. i think studying the bible is VERY important. i love bible study and i know it is very important but i do not think being a disciple of JESUS CHRIST is merely studying a lot. i would actually describe that as a mild version of gnosticism. a very generalized description of gnosticism would be that salvation comes down to the right intellectual knowledge (i.e. gnosis). i fear that much of the modern church has become gnostic in its practice of making disciples. using aritotle’s “ends and means” studying seems to have become an ends rather than a means.

studying should be a means for reaching the aimed for end which is following CHRIST. the problem is that far too often studying is treated as the aimed for end. instead i believe the biblical example of disciple making comes back to JESUS call to HIS disciples which was “come, follow me.” following is the goal or end. knowledge helps in following. studying is important for following but it is never the ultimate goal. following is.

at tapestry we try to focus on following and doing things to help people follow HIM.

so here are the basic instructions for what we do.

  1. In what ways have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of JESUS CHRIST with both your words and actions?
  2. How have you experienced GOD in your life this week?
  3. How are you responding to HIS promptings?
  4. Do you have a need to confess any sin?
  5. How did you do with your reading last week?

it is basically derived from neil cole’s life transformation groups. i think it does a wonderful job of helping us to focus our studying on being better followers. it helps us keep our ends and means in line.

SIDE NOTE – i think that the modern western church would do a better job of making disciples of JESUS CHRIST if we asked “what is a disciple” more often than we ask “how do we make disciples.”

One Reply to “what is a disciple?”

  1. I agree, as soon as I saw the first question I knew it was Neil Cole. We use accountability partners wherever we can to help make disciples. Do you know that the NT uses the word Christian about 3 times (depending on your translation) and disciple 250? Maybe they know what they are talking about. Great post.

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