Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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FAMILY, FELLOWSHIP + DISCIPLESHIP

August 30th, 2011 by Ryan

Before we get to we should quickly delve into what “Discipleship” means. We can dissect the English language and get our bearings first. Here is Mr. Webster’s definition of “Disciple”.

…one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another:

as a : one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts

b : a convinced adherent of a school or individual

To add some background here is the etymology of the word at Wikipedia:

The term disciple is derived from the New Testament Greek word “μαθητής“. (mathetes), coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus meaning “a learner”.

When we take this and combine it with the Christian experience we can see that being a disciple can simply boil down to: Believing, Learning, and Living

  • Believing: is having faith that Jesus is who he claimed to be and that he fulfilled God’s redemptive plan to save us from sin.
  • Learning: is studying the spiritual truths of the Bible that Jesus taught. Being a life-long learned of the sacred truths.
  • Living: Is the VERB, the action, and the “Great Commission” element involved in being a Disciple. It is as Jesus calls us to “Go” and “Make” disciples into all the earth. To spread this gospel of love that Christ became incarnate.

Now that we have a better picture of the definition, we will look at three areas of discipleship:

  • The Family,
  • The Fellowship
  • The Church

If you walked around the country of Wales across the sea you would find many big, and beautifully constructed churches all over the island. They are constructed of stone and brick with steeples that reach towards the sky.

The latest statistic (wiki) saw that less than 10% of the population is “Churched”, approximately 300,000 people. 1/6th of the population stated they “professed no faith”, that is roughly a half million of the three million total population.

They are beautiful, but empty, churches.

I would like to show you a video, by a worship band, that talks about the situation over in wales.

As he talked about in this video, 50 years is all it took it erode the Christian foundation that was once so strong in their country. This is just one generation.

So what does this have to do with “Discipleship”?

THE FAMILY UNIT

This illustration is a wake up call for us here in America. This could be our future. The church alone, meaning the organized body of believers, can’t do anything to stop it. The majority of the burden lies inside the family unit. When I say, “Family Unit” I am not just talking about the nuclear family i.e. “Dad, Mom, Kids” this could be single parent home or extended family (grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, etc.) depending on the situation.

Discipleship should start in your home. This is the place where your influence is the strongest and long lasting. This is the place where you forge your spiritual legacy. This is where you can help build a solid faith foundation with the people whom you are closest to.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) says:

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

This verse is intense. It speaks of the huge responsibility the family unit has. This verse has an implied alternate scenario as well that is sobering. If we shirk our responsibility and not train them in the way, then we have sent our family into situations unprepared. Unprepared for the trials and temptations they will face.

This is not to say that the choice of a child is always directly related to the parents. Free will comes into play and choices in the end are made by one-self. But good discipleship in the home can help prepare a child for the situations they will encounter and help them to know God’s Word and use it to make obedient choices.

Discipleship at home is a key responsibility we have to our families. Sometimes we can become relaxed in our home discipleship and rely on other to do this.

A secret killer of discipleship in the home is relinquishing responsibility.

The church, meaning the body of Christ, has a great role in discipleship. A lot of Churches have great programs for families. They have children ministries, small groups, youth groups, potlucks, etc. But this role cannot not take the sole responsibility of discipleship we have to our own families. Sometimes we can get so used to discipleship inside the Church structure that we may neglect the discipleship that needs to occur in the home as well.

Only when discipleship at home is strong can Church discipleship really become effective. It’s kind of like the Robin to your Batman. Together it’s a dynamic duo. (This simile was written on low sleep and upon proof reading in a better frame of mind was kept due to how massively cheesy it is)

Let’s take a look at verse in the Old Testament about family discipleship.

Deuteronomy (ESV) 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

There are three things I would like to point out in this passage.

1. God’s Words should be on our HEARTS.

It’s not just a knowledge thing. It is about walking the walk. We should be living examples of obedience to God. You can be the closest to your family so they are the hardest to fool. If your faith is not “legit” they will know. They will sniff you out. Also, you are constantly preaching in every action and word you say

ALL DAY LONG.

2. You need to teach it diligently.

Make it a priority that you strive to talk about and live the Truths of God.

3. Not just Sunday.

The truth is that one Sunday a week is not enough for your family to be “discipled”. The verse talks about constantly teaching your children about the Truths of God. When you sit on the couch, when you travel in your car, when you rest, when you prepare for he day.

FELLOWSHIP

Another strong area for discipleship is through our peer groups. This could be your Christian friends, co-workers, or small group. These are people seeking the same truths of Jesus as you are.

Let’s look at some of the aspects of Fellowship:

John (ESV) 13:35-35

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We need to be doing this for the right reasons. It must be pure; it must be out of love. It should not be for pride. If we are loving one another as Christ loved when we disciple, people can tell that we are different.

Hebrews (ESV) 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

We need to be helping each other find areas we can live out the Gospel.

I love how this verse uses the phrase “stir up” in a positive way. It has an exciting tone to it.

Don’t just tell your brothers and sisters in Christ to do GOOD.

STIR IT UP.

Be an instigator of righteousness.

God wants us to fellowship. It is built into us as humans. We need to meet together and encourage one another towards the truth of God.

Proverbs (ESV) 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Metaphors are great. They can take a complex idea and turn into something solid. We understand that we need to help each other out. This metaphor gives it so much more depth. Here are some ideas I pulled out of it.

  • IRON and IRON – You have to be made of the same metal to sharpen one another. It is easier to take advice from someone who has similar experiences as you.
  • Sharpening a tool is hard work- Sometimes it is hard to correct or be corrected.
  • There is friction between the tool and the sharpener- If someone doesn’t know they are on the wrong path, there could be some resistance when you are helping them back on track.

To take this a step further we can look at why we sharpen. Once the plow is sharpened does it make sense to put it back in the barn? Once our tools are prepared we must use them. We must help prepare one another for living out the “Great Commission”.

The last aspect of “Discipleship” is The Church. The Church has elements that are intrinsically connected with Fellowship as the church is built of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

THE CHURCH

The purpose of a church should be to facilitate discipleship amongst the body. A question that should always be asked is:

Are we making disciples or putting on a show?

When it becomes a show, that’s when we would be better off boarding up the church. If there are no visible “spiritual fruits” that result in the work of the church, then it is all sweets and has no nutritional value.

Church leaders should be training the body to contribute toward the kingdom of God. D.L Moody once said:

“It is better to train ten people than to do the work of ten people. But it is harder. “

This statement is so true. It is harder and messier.

It is easier to pick up your child’s toys than to train them to pick up after themselves. Especially two year olds! (Trust me)

It is easier to do things yourself than to let someone new take a crack at it. But this is the role the church has. To prepare them for something bigger. To help prepare people for God’s plan for the world. That’s a big task.

Sometimes it is hard to get involved in Church as a congregation. We may like to go to Church, blend in and go home feeling “spiritualized”. This is not the right motive. We as the church should be here to help encourage one another to participate in spreading the Gospel. We should be working with the “blend in” folks to help them make a mark in God’s kingdom.

To wrap up we see that these three areas of discipleship can combine to help you grow into the person God wants you to be. It can help grw you into someone who helps mold other in God’s ways. It can help you teach your families in the ways of Truth.

 

 

 

 

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