Three short words that I’ve been thinking about when it comes to discipleship.
These words are prepositions their function in language is to show the relationship with other nouns or pronouns in the sentence. My question is how much of the disciplemaking we do in the church uses the preposition with and how much is it to or for. Let me explain…
There is much we do as a gathered church that is for people or to people. Sermons are spoken to people or written for people. Compassion ministries are often about doing something for people. We offer to pray for people. We provide meals for people. We tell a Bible story to children or get them to prepare a special item that they present for adults.
As I think about with in discipleship it seems more relational, more alongside in nature. I think of home or life groups where we consistently connect with a small group of people, can choose to be vulnerable with them and share life. I think of church working bees when everyone is working alongside each other. I think of meeting with a mentor. I think of the times when there is room for questions and dialogue and thinking through how to live out the call of Christ on our lives.
In ministry with children we often feel constrained to fit disciplemaking into our gathering times which are usually once per week for around an hour. I wonder if this is the case with adults too.
I’d love to see more with in our life as a community of faith.
To and for are mass producible, efficient ways to make disciples. With on the other hand, being more mutual and shoulder to shoulder, reaches fewer people by one single effort. Although it is probably far more effective.
I’m wondering how much we rely on our gatherings to be the key to discipleship. If learning, worshipping and serving are going to be done with each other maybe it will take more time than we are currently giving.
What if there was only one point to the sermon but time was spent dialoguing in small groups and asking questions. What if one or two children were invited to work with the adult musos over months in the church band rather than having them “perform” an item. What if we changed our language from “can I pray for you” to “can I pray with you” and we took the time together to seek God. What if we shared more of our everyday lives with people who come to our community outreach ministries rather than just running something for them. Sally Smith explores this idea of what being with people in community ministries could look like in the Spring 2016 issue of PRAC from Crossover.
I find to and for are sometimes an easier way to do ministry in the short term. With takes more time and a little more creativity, but the long term results are worth it.
Would we have more disciplemaking disciples if we made a conscious choice to as much as possible do things with people?