Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Total Church: Discipleship and Training

Discipleship and Training
The means by which sinners are evangelized, the gospel word and the gospel community, are the means by which sinners are discipled…The good news that gives life is the good news that transforms, while the community that incarnates gospel truth for the sinner is the community that incarnates gospel truth for the saint (110).

Teaching people the gospel word
Our contention is that being word-centered is so much more than being sermon-centered (112).
Word ministry takes place in a variety of ways, not simply for forty-five minutes on a Sunday morning. It takes place through group Bible studies. It takes place when two people meet to read the Bible. It takes place as people are mentored through the word. In our experience, most character formation and discipleship takes place through informal and ad hoc conversations. This kind of word ministry requires relationships, time and gospel intentionality.
What counts is teaching that leads to changed lives. Being word-centered means God’s word has priority over tradition and precedent. Many churches that claim to be word-centered are in practice tradition-centered…Unless someone long ago came to a complete and perfect understanding of the Bible; it suggests people are no longer living under God’s word so that it challenges their thinking and practice (114).

Teaching along the road
This is not to denigrate the importance of formal teaching times as church, but rather to emphasize the need also to bring teaching out of the pulpit and embed it in life…Chapters 9-10 of Mark’s Gospel are an extended explanation of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
They should understand the sovereignty of God not only from a sermon series on Isaiah, but as they see us respond to trials with ‘pure joy’! We have found in our context that most learning and training takes place not through programmed teaching or training courses, but unplanned conversations: talking about life, talking about ministry, talking about problems (115).

Shepherds who are sheep
Leaders are not a special class set apart on their own, having to face burdensome responsibilities and forced to endure a lonely existence. Leaders cannot be detached. They must be visible believers who live their lives openly in the midst of the believing community.
The only demarcation among the people of God is that of function not position. If my role is that of a leader in the local church, then I am a gospel minister using my gift to serve God’s people.
Many of my ‘minister’ friends speak of church as something from which they must seek solace. They ‘protect’ their day off and guard their privacy of their home…For Tim/Steve, church is where they find solace.

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