…We Invite Existing Christians Into Mutual Discipleship…
A few years ago we started inviting existing believers to meet with us and develop relationship before we just thrust them into a meeting and along the way we started to invite them to consider the cost of meeting as an organic house church. But there is another facet of our lifestyle that we also invite them into intentionally and that is the process of mutual discipleship.
Most of you are probably familiar with the idea of discipleship. It’s the process of becoming more like Jesus through regular interaction and encouragement of other believers. While it’s possible for a person to become a disciple of Jesus from a direct relationship with Christ, God’s design is that we learn from the strengths and weaknesses of each other and help each other see beyond our blind spots.
Mutual discipleship is where people gather together to learn to follow Jesus together without having a top-down structure. For many of my friends in the evangelical church, top-down discipleship is the only form of discipleship that is ever known. Paul actually asked believers to follow him as he followed Christ, so I do believe that there is a place to learn from people further down the path of following Jesus than you. Mutual discipleship is important, though, because without it, we will never multiply at the speed needed to sustain the harvest.* The only way to have everyone being discipled and discipling at the same time is mutual discipleship.
This process of everyone becoming a disciple and making disciples of others is crucial towards Jesus’ goal of discipling the nations. But I find in many of the places existing believers come from, Christianity with discipleship is for the committed…not the ground floor of believing in Christ. So we encourage (but do not require) people who are joining our house churches to consider joining two or three other believers in our midst for reading the Bible, accountability, and prayer for the lost.*
While this is may seem artificial, I think it’s helped us set the tone for the kind of people we want to be. Not everyone has joined one of these groups and some who have joined have continued to remain a part of our fellowships but not a part of our groups of 2&3. But everyone knows they are welcome and the groups are important. Everyone gets the opportunity to be a disciple and a disciple-maker. These groups have built relationships and helped us learn how to love and serve each other without control.
Believers, living together, digging into the Bible together, confessing sins to each other, and praying for the lost together is such a beautiful reality. I don’t want believers to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of that process. So when we meet with existing believers and discuss joining our house churches, we share the beauty of discipleship and ask if they are interested in participating.
And I believe we are better for it.
Are you inviting people who are new to your church into a lifestyle of discipleship?
How do you help believers understand discipleship as the lifestyle of every believer and not just the committed few?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
*I will write more about this process of mutual discipleship more in an upcoming series. See? I told you the footnotes are often a springboard for more blogs in the future.
5 responses to “…We Invite Existing Christians Into Mutual Discipleship…”
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- March 5, 2017 -
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I really like your emphasis on discipleship as forming the foundation of our Christian walk. And I totally agree with you that, for the most part, it is mutual discipleship. There will always be younger believers where the main flow of the discipleship is one way, but even there there will always be plenty that the “younger” can teach the “older” if he is willing to listen.
I understand what you are saying about having small groups to more effectively pursue discipleship. I understand that is more practical. I don’t think it is “forced” so much as trying to work within people’s lifestyles and mindsets — we are comfortable attending a scheduled meeting or get-together, but living a lifestyle of spontaneous and committed gathering together is more difficult.
I guess what is on my heart is to see the church naturally taking the time to get together, to read the Bible, worship and pray together and to share our lives. I believe discipleship can naturally occur in those scenarios if we are intentional about it. That is what our family is seeking within our house church.
Travis, I love the way ya’ll put discipleship above multiplication. My very limited eye witness account of house church in a couple of nations where Christians are persecuted is this. New believers are partially discipled before they are ever introduced to the whole house church. The one on one or 2″s and 3’s allows time to mature a bit. I think another point of a shepard’s heart is to grow sheep not wolves. I think you have demonstrated that well even with out persecution.