We need to have our collective imagination stirred to see how we-all are able to be disciples who disciple others in the context of life.
This ties into two previous posts – the first, where I talked about how our models of church tell us what it means to be a Christian, and the second, where I talked about the permission we have to live the radical life of a Christ-follower.
I just read a post on a well-known Christian leader’s blog about the barriers to being a disciple-maker. While I appreciated it, I was struck that the context was typical – a church planter/pastor guy talking about his experience in overcoming obstacles to sharing the gospel, gaining converts, making disciples, and establishing a new church plant.
The thing that bothers me about this typical picture is that only very few will be in the position of a church planter, but we’re all called to make disciples. Will the average Christian press in and apply what he reads, or will he shake his head and say to himself ‘wow, it sure is tough to be a pastor!’? Of course, the vast majority of Christians will never read the post.
So, this bugs me. It has for a long time. Most of what’s out there on blogs and Twitter that talks about discipling others and building the church is written by professional Christians for (mostly) other professional Christians. Unfortunately, Christianity isn’t a profession, and if only a few are talking about and pursuing the work of discipling others then the church will just keep marking time.
We need to see and hear about examples of ‘regular’ followers of Christ doing the work of loving and serving and discipling. We need to see that being the body of Christ is not something that is passive and only involves a few paid ‘doers’.
The challenge is that the ones who are doing the talking are typically the ‘professionals’. If you are an in-the-trenches doer, and you start talking and writing about what you are doing, you will likely transition into a professional status.
This is where Schrödinger’s Cat comes in.
My apologies to all the physicists out there, as I’m going to do a real hack job and entirely misapply the lessons of Schrödinger’s Cat and the similar-to-me but different Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. You can search those things out to discover what they are all about, but you probably don’t need to. The point is in how I’m applying them. (Unless, of course, you are a theoretical physicist.)
The very very rough idea is that knowing one aspect of a thing (whether the cat is alive or dead, or what the particle’s velocity is versus it’s position) means that knowledge about it is limited or inaccessible in some other important aspect. (I guess you might have to look up Schrödinger and Heisenberg to really make sense of that, after all. But hang with me.)
The application is this: if you are a professional Christian, then you are often (usually?) not in the trenches, and I can’t follow you or look to you as an example of how to live my life. You are separate. Other. I can learn things from you, and be encouraged by you, but I can’t follow you in a way that equips me to give others something to follow.
Now, hold on! Don’t get all mad. I don’t mean that in some absolute sense. I mean it in the particular sense of ‘go therefore and make disciples.’ If our idea is that disciple-making is a Sunday morning from the pulpit kind of thing, not many will be involved. We need Christian voices to tell us the stories of regular people alive and active in the Kingdom of God. We need Christian leaders to step away from the microphone and step into the kind of shoulder-to-shoulder life that can be observed and emulated. That’s what Jesus did. And Paul.
What do you think? I hope to serve more as that voice, pointing out faithful disciple-makers and servants, and I look forward to following their example, free to love and serve down in the trenches of life.