discipleship pathway

Until very recently I had not heard of discipleship pathways. I must admit, after reading about it a little online, I can see how a clear road for discipleship can be extremely helpful. So here is a link to a post I found helpful: How to Create a Discipleship Pathway.

I want to share just one point:

Celebrating success – which shapes your culture – becomes trickier if people have different views on what success looks like.

We need to be facing the same direction and aiming for the same goal.

wrong answers?

I have been reading From Social Media to Social Ministry. I am always a little hesitate of books that claim to be a guide or an answer. Often these books have a good analysis of the problem, it is just the step-by-step answers that leave me a little disappointed.

The book is written for an American evangelical audience, all of which I am not. Yet there are some real gems in the mess. (See someone does agree with me!)

The data links the decline to one main thing: a perceived lack of relevance. And relevance isn’t only a question of your message; it’s also a question of your method.

Jones, Nona. From Social Media to Social Ministry

I think a major problem for modern churches is that they are answering questions that no one (except them) is asking. In reality what person outside of the church is interested in what you think the Bible is, or how your escatology connects with your Christology? Some Christian communities behave more like cults (world evil, us good) than loving followers of Jesus.

While the data is not as convincing as the author makes out, I think that the basic point is solid: are churches answering questions people are asking? Or is the church shame-blaming people outside of the church for not asking the right questions?

Jesus connected with people. He used parables (word pictures) for people to experience Him and the Kingdom of God. Jesus used images that people were familiar with and related to. So fundamentally are modern churches building community around an argument, an idea, or around the Person of Jesus?

heroes of the faith

A hero who has become an offense or stumbling block to his age in the awareness that he is a paradox that cannot make itself intelligible cries out confidently to his contemporaries: “The outcome will indeed show that I was justified.”

Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 55

Another quote! I like that being a hero for SK is connected to the paradox. Rather than explaining everything, having all the answers, the hero stands and says, “I don’t know”.

more about faith …

The paradox of faith then is this, that the single individual is higher than the universal, that the single individual, to recall a now rather rare theological distinction, determines his relation to the universal by his relation to the absolute, not his relation to the absolute by his relation to the universal.

Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 61.

More to add to the list of quotes for a definition of discipleship.

truth

Here is such a definition of truth: the objective uncertainty maintained through appropriation in the most passionate inwardness is truth, the highest truth there is for someone existing.

Kierkegaard: Concluding Unscientific Postscript (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 171.

I am pretty sure I have shared this before. I think this hits the heart of what SK is speaking about. And I think it is an important step in discipleship – passionate inwardness.

knowing

The only way of coming to know and understand the divine, therefore, is by the god annulling the absolute difference in absolute equality in the absolute paradox of the incarnation.

Sylvia Walsh. Kierkegaard: Thinking Christianly in an Existential Mode (Christian Theology in Context)

I want to collect quotes that help me work towards a definition of a disciple and the discipleship pathway. I am deeply indebted to Kierkegaard for my major understandings in this area so I am looking for quotes from him. I guess I should start with Scripture, the New Testament, and Jesus.

So the above shows how God takes the first step in the Jesus-event, especially the incarnation. And there is an absolute difference between God and me that can only be bridged in Jesus.

More to think about!

Followers!

The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. [They] always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, [they are] inexhaustible about how highly [they] prizes Christ, [they] renounce nothing, give up nothing, will not reconstruct [their] life, will not be what [they] admire, and will not let [their] life express what it is [they] supposedly admire.

Kierkegaard (modified)

I cannot believe I have not shared this quote. I think it is an excellent place to start when looking at the question of the nature of discipleship. I am going to try to collect some quotes from SK on the topic. So here is the first!

digital discipleship

Our Vicar emailed me this article: 3 THINGS THAT WILL BE TRUE ABOUT GROWING CHURCHES IN THE FUTURE. The statistics are interesting. However, they highlight that churches need to know their “audience”.

I was struck by the first point: Digital Ministry Will Be About Genuine Connection. People used to come to the church but now the church needs to come to people. The church needs to connect with people “where they are at”. Also, as a related point, the church needs to love people “where they are at” and not where it wants people to be.

Right now, many churches are using digital ministry for content distribution via YouTube and social, but in its fullest form, digital ministry is about people.

And that is the fundamental point: it is about people and not information. And it is The Person that is the aim and end of all “ministry”.

I want to explore “digital discipleship” more. Can we disciple people online? Can people have an experience of Jesus via social media or YouTube?

hearts on fire

What is the goal of Christian mission? I sometimes feel that some mission activity is more about being validated. Or, and much much worse, the objectification of individuals as “bums on seats”. Without a clear aim, how can Christianity reach out for Jesus?

Maybe mission is about providing people with information about Jesus? Logical, rational, and apologetic discussion on Jesus. And individuals, based on that information, make a decision to follow Jesus or not. I have information about a number of topics, none of which make any difference in my life. If the information does not change me, does not challenge me to change, is that information really the goal of mission? Yes, information is part of the process but it is not the end.

I think the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24) is a good example of what Christianity should aim for in mission: an experience of Jesus. After the two travelled with Jesus, talked to Him, and even had “communion” with Him, their experience is much deeper than any of those things:

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:31-32

What does the “Jesus experience” feel like? “Our hearts burning within us”. An experience that transcends words and even emotions. A mystical experience of the presence of the Eternal in Jesus:

One definition is that a mystical experience is one in which you feel filled with God’s presence in an intense and unmistakable way. Or you feel “lifted up” from the normal way of seeing things. Or you are simply overwhelmed with the sense of God in a way that seems to transcend your own understanding. …

Needless to say, these experiences are hard to put into words. It’s the same as trying to describe the first time you fell in love, or held your newborn child in your arms, or saw the ocean for the first time. But just because they are difficult to explain doesn’t mean that they’re not real, or authentic.

Everyday Mysticism

The problem, for the modern mind, is that an experience can not be quantified. But that is the paradox of Christianity and faith in Jesus. It is about a life more than information. It is about an experience that transforms me and the way I see the world around me.