Reproduction vs. Reciprocity (5 Reasons We Don’t See Discipleship)
Here was the Apostle Paul’s singular strategy in the expansion of God’s kingdom,
Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others (2 Tim. 2:1-2).
His strategy was Timothy!! Not only Timothy, but all the little Tim’s that Timothy would produce by following these simple instructions. Looking back on early Church history, and the Gospel’s explosive growth through Paul, it seems like he was doing a few things right. If we are doing a few things wrong (we are), then perhaps we should compare our modern methods of discipleship with tried, ancient practices.
5 reasons we don’t see discipleship.
1) We neglect mission because we are satisfied with community
We have fine circles of faith, but those circles never overlap with non-believers who can experience the love of God, and have their questions engaged with, because we feel as though we’ve achieved everything within our subculture. We’ll begin to feel the repercussions of this when the crowd gets bigger.
2) We don’t pass on what we’ve learned; we flaunt what we’ve learned
We aren’t taking the time to pass on the things that have effectively kept us out of darkness, and equipped us for mission. When we are around people who ask questions, the pull is so strong to make ourselves look good, instead of handing to others what we’ve learned.
3) We obsess over non-essentials instead of teaching “these truths”
We get bogged down in silly disputes over theology. While theological nitpicking can be fun, it rarely causes immature Christians to grow. The foundational building-blocks of the gospel of God’s kingdom are what we need to chew on for our spiritual health.
4) We don’t invest into “trustworthy” people that will pass on truth to others
We surround ourselves with people who are on a similar level as ourselves for the purpose of having fun conversations. Yet we never have the opportunity to hand down what we’ve learned to younger Christians who actually NEED to hear what we know.
5) We do not teach others how to teach others.
This is the pebble in the shoe of modern Christian discipleship. Even if we are successful with teaching others how to feed themselves on the Scriptures, we may fail at teaching them how to teach others. At best, we only produce ourselves—we do not re-produce ourselves. Discipleship is a task of reproduction. We may raise amazing Christians around us, but if we do not TEACH them to carry on the same pattern with others in the same way we have done with them, they will die as sterile clones of ourselves, and not as disciple-making disciples of Jesus.
Christian culture seems to be ok with staying in this stagnant space: not wanting to teach and equip the people we are called to invest in to live their lives on mission for the Gospel of Jesus. Deep down, I think it’s because we are more concerned with feeling the reciprocity of friendship, than the reproduction of disciples. This desire must change in my heart. In our hearts. Until then, discipleship will remain as it is. And the books coming out to address the problem of its powerlessness will continue to haunt us.
- The problem of growth and the need for discipleship (christopherlazo.com)
- Sterile Christians are Contradictions: On The Art of Discipleship (christopherlazo.com)