I got a request from a friend of mine who is in graduate school to do a brief interview about discipleship. Since we don’t really use the term “discipleship” or “disciple” the answers I gave are a little different. Take a look at the questions and answers and let me know what you think.
QUESTION: How do you define “disciple” or “discipleship”?
We don’t often use the word “disciple”. It is not because it is a bad word. On the contrary it is a good biblical word that has been ruined because the cultural definition focuses primarily on increasing ones cognitive content and not on direction, mission or biblical spiritual maturity. So we use the phrase “Christ follower”. We challenge people to become 3C Christ followers. We believe there are three over-arching experiences of any follower of Jesus: celebrate, connect and contribute.
- We encourage people to celebrate on a daily basis personally and a weekly basis corporately what God is doing and who God is.
- We encourage people to connect with other Christ followers and do life together in community.
- We encourage people to contribute with their time, talents and treasures.
QUESTION: How do you “make disciples” (strategies, methods, materials used, etc.)?
We “make disciples” by encouraging people to continue to grow spiritually from spiritual infancy to spiritual adolescence to spiritual maturity.
- spiritual infancy – people who need to be fed.
- spiritual adolescence – people who have learned to feed themselves
- spiritual maturity – people who feed others
This means that we take a developmental approach where people are increasingly not only responsible for their own spiritual development, but for the development of other spiritual infants.
QUESTION: How do you know if you’ve been successful?
We have a dashboard that measures what percentage of each ministry, each campus and our church are 3C Christ followers. This is the most critical metric and we are constantly monitoring that number.
QUESTION: What advice would you give to an emerging (just getting started) pastor?
Four quick pieces of advice come to mind:
- Don’t buy into the way most churches divide discipleship and evangelism. UGH! People and churches need to do both…and a Christ follower is both a disciple and an evangelist.
- Don’t create a dependency model of spiritual growth by constantly “feeding people” and never insisting that they grow up and learn to “feed themselves” and “feed others”.
- Make it very clear what it looks like to be a disciple or as we prefer, Christ follower. Some might think 3C’s is too simple. But we believe you want something that is biblical, memorable and simple to get people started. They will grow from there.
- Find a way to measure the spiritual maturity of an individual and your church. Anecdotes and stories are very important, but sometimes they are incidental and not reflective of the reality of the whole community.