Tag Archives: discipleship

the one where i’m thinking about discipleship

i’ll just warn you … it’s monday, and my pastor preached a good one yesterday. which got me thinking some thinks (which we all know is dangerous and leads to another rambling blog post). between getting my non-so-inner nerd fired up in the sermon, a really great time of catching up and planning with my co-small group leader, and a thought provoking work meeting last night, my brain is about to spill over.

first, that catching up/planning: C and i work hard to meet up every week (or as often as possible if weekly doesn’t work out)- to catch up, reconnect, talk about how her relationship with her boyfriend is going, drink coffee, dream dreams for the ladies in our small group, and plan group for the next couple of weeks. we try to make sure that one of us is aware of what’s happening on the church calendar, in the lives of our ladies, etc. this weekend, our conversation centered on kicking off the new year. we’re switching the day the group meets, nailing down the things we know about that will disrupt our regular group meetings, working on the calendar, and planning for the study we’re doing as a group (spoiler alert: we’re doing the sermon based curriculum because thewholebibleinayear). we also talked about a problem we’ve been experiencing (and that we hear from many other small group leaders)- people who just won’t commit … or say they do, but rarely show up and rarely communicate. let me go ahead and say that we have a fantastic small group! but like any other group of single, young professionals, life has a way of getting really full, really fast. i realized that we talk about commitment to group, encourage communication, etc, but something is still apparently missing. we all love each other, yes; but we are not all constructing our lives around our community. yes, i know that the idea i just said sounds super cultish and controlling; no, i didn’t say it wrong. hear me out:

i read several articles on discipleship that have been simmering in the back of my mind for a couple of months now. some were written as part of a series, the others happened to be along a similar vein … but like i said, i’ve been ruminating. there are two main ideas here: imitation (not just being a copycat- think paul’s numerous exhortations to ‘imitate me as i imitate christ), and doctrine. imitation is a concept that i think goes against the grain for many of us – we are indoctrinated with ‘you do you’ and radical individualism, not to mention the idea that our version of morality is the one that counts, and that we should follow our hearts. we are willing to accept the theory that following christ is counter-cultural – and even to act on it, to a degree- but we balk at the idea of taking it as far as patterning every aspect of our lives around looking like jesus. one article talked about it this way:

3 Strands of Disciple-Making

1. Informing – What We Believe

Part of disciple-making is helping people understand what they believe. It includes the inculcation of information, the teaching of biblical facts and Christian doctrines.

2. Instructing – What We Do

Another part of disciple-making is helping people adopt the practices that make up the Christian life. We walk alongside others, modeling for them what it looks like to live the way of Christ.

3. Imitating – How We Reason

But there’s a third part of disciple-making that is necessary, something a full-orbed vision of “imitation” gives us. This strand refers to helping people reason like Christians who have been formed by “what we believe” and “what we do.” The imitation of reasoning is especially needed on issues where clear instructions are not present in Scripture.

If you only focus on the first two elements (informing and instructing), then you wind up with people who are not fully equipped to respond to the conundrums they encounter in life.

What does your disciple do when he or she confronts an issue that isn’t resolved by the checklist of doctrines to believe, or the common practices of the Christian life?

another article (same author) uses ‘apprenticeship’ language:

Teaching and the Modeling of the Christian Life

The biblical vision of teaching, particularly with its emphasis on apprenticeship, opens up new windows as to how “teaching” needs to include both the delivery of Christian truth and the modeling of a Christian lifestyle. Belief and action go together. Schaeffer again: “It seems to me that the real question is what we really believe. It seems to me that we do tend to have two creeds—the one which we believe in our intellectual assent, and then the one which we believe to the extent of acting upon it in faith. More and more it seems to me that the true level of our orthodoxy is measured by this latter standard rather than the former. And more and more it seems to me that there is no such thing as an abstract Christian dogma—that each Christian dogma can be experienced on some level.” So dogma and experience go together. How does that shape our vision of “teaching”? In particular, what does “teaching them” in the Great Commission refer to? Sermons? Bible studies? Lectures? Maybe. But there’s a clue there in the text itself. Teaching them to obey all that Christ has commandedThis necessarily involves both modeling and verbal teaching.

one of the other articles rolling around in my head is one i’ve already posted about a couple of times- this author uses ‘improvisation’ & ‘development’ language: Why Theology Matters

Developing doctrine in the church is one more in a series of improvisations: the disciples’ story is an improvisation on the history of Israel. Jesus Christ is himself an improvisation on a covenant theme: God’s steadfast love and righteousness. In each case, there is both creativity (newness) and fidelity to what preceded (sameness). Improvisation accents the importance of both speaking and acting out faith’s understanding. The development of doctrine belongs not to speculative but to pastoral theology. In each case, doctrine helps the church to know what to say, think, and do in the face of new challenges. // The development of doctrine is a matter of thinking biblically in new situations.Scripture shapes our vision of the whole, instills mental habits, forms the desire of our hearts, and trains us in the way of discipleship. Doctrine is essential for training in discipleship, and that includes missiological improvisation—knowing how to go on in the same gospel way in different situations. // Doctrinal development is ultimately a matter of the church’s faith improvisation in accordance with the Scriptures and with earlier faithful improvisations (e.g., creedal formulations). The development of doctrine is part and parcel of the mission of the church. Doctrine helps disciples individually and corporately to make right decisions about what to say and do in order to participate rightly in and continue the same drama of redemption in which Israel, Jesus Christ, and the apostles played leading parts. The purpose of theology is to make disciples, players in God’s drama of redemption who are able to play their parts with faithful and creative understanding.

i think my church does a great job with the doctrine end of the equation … and i’d like to think i do the same in regards to my small group. but maybe i’m not as strong on the imitation end as i’d like to be. some of that could come from a distinct lack of available female mentors- there are terribly few women who are both worth imitating and available enough relationaly to imitate. there is indeed a need for titus 2 relationship (older women teaching younger women), and i’ll confess to having a hard time finding that in my life. but even that doesn’t give me a pass- i have the scriptures at my disposal and the holy spirit indwelling me.

i also think my church has a good sense of ‘community’ (which can be kind of ambiguously defined sometimes), but i think there is a distinction to be made between community and the kind of discipleship that includes imitation/apprenticeship/development. too often we equate those things with mere proximity, and leave out the intensity of relationship that brings about change. the way i hear community defined most often is ‘doing life together’ … i don’t disagree with that definition- i have a community (friends, small group ladies, family) that i ‘do life with’. we eat meals together, some of us ever grocery shop together!, we spend hours talking about nothing at all and everything at the same time, we worship together, we confess sin to one another, we learn about the word together … but those are not the kind of relationships i’m talking about here. i am a big fan of this kind of relational discipleship, but i can’t help but feel there is something lacking.

am i the only one who thinks this? i know this has gotten convoluted and is now allthethoughts. hopefully, it’s no secret that i love theology and discipleship. it is a credit to those who discipled me first (shout out to my peeps at word of life!) that i don’t consciously separate what i know from how i (try to) live. the more i disciple others, the more i am realizing that this isn’t normal … and that it is a major difficulty in most discipleship relationships. i also didn’t realize until now that i didn’t have a way to articulate this (since i was taught not to separate the two). i’m finding it troubling and helpful all at the same time.

this has gotten lengthy, so i’ll get to the sermon thoughts and work stuff another time … be warned 😉

a couple of other posts that influenced this one: is it arrogant to tell other christians to imitate your example? and recovering the role of imitation in discipleship today.


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the one where you meet penny.

guys, its fall. officially. i even wore boots today.

we’re down to three weeks between me and the bestdayoftheyearotherthanchristmas (aka my birthday).

my sister and i are now the proud co-parents to #pennythewarriorprincess- she came home with us from the wake county animal shelter three weeks ago, and its safe to say she has us wrapped around her sweet, spotted paws. she’s kinda the cutest dog EVER.

photo (1)

these are happy things! another thing that makes my heart happy is when i get to think all the thinks- so here’s some thinks i’ve been thinking.

this post from hannah anderson: college girls: education, imago dei, and the gospel

Her entire experience of Christianity was based in her relationship to a husband or father and NOT in relationship to Christ.

This is not simply an area of misunderstanding. This is a line of thinking that represents a much deeper, much more insidious problem. One that boarders on heresy because it distorts, and at times rejects, a key doctrine of the gospel: The doctrine of imago Dei.

The doctrine of imago Dei teaches that every human being, every man and woman, every boy and, yes, every girl is made in God’s image, destined to reflect His character and to represent Him on this earth. Our core identity comes from God’s identity. Pay attention: imago Dei is not simply a starting point for other doctrines, nor is it simply a means of ascribing equal worth to men and women (although it does). No, imago Dei is the most basic paradigm for how we understand our existence.

It is a truth that runs through the warp and weave of the entire Scripture. It informs everything about the gospel—what we were created to be, what sin is, how redemption happens, and what we will one day become. It is also the basis on which Jesus Christ, the God-Man, can redeem us. Simply put, the truth of imago Dei IS creation, justification, sanctification, and glorification all in one package.

And if you mess with it, you mess with the gospel.

another incredibly helpful piece from THE brad hambrick: differentiating mourning from wallowing in depression-anxiety

There are many things that unhealthy wallowing and healthy mourning have in common. It can be easier to confuse one from the other than many people think. The person who thinks he is “working through” his pain may be wallowing in self-pity. Those who try to rouse their friend out of self-pity may be rushing them through legitimate mourning.

this post from wendy alsup made me stand up and holler: the third way on gender

But what if all the verses on women actually work together in conjunction? And what if they work in conjunction with everything else in Scripture as well? There is a third way on gender, and I’d argue it’s actually the Biblical way – the way that keeps all the verses, reading them all in light of the redemption story. It starts with creation, men and women as image bearers of God. It understands the fall and the impact of sin on both genders. And it capitalizes on redemption, Jesus’ atonement for our sin that equips us to once again be image bearers of God. I envision a third way that centers around redemptive image bearing.

wrap your head around this: 

this whole album from phillip phillips: 

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welcome to raleigh, and the second-best salad … (you’re gonna wanna try this.)

good lord. we’re here!! its been a few weeks now … i was waiting for some semblance of a routine, but nothing has appeared yet that looks anything like ‘normal’ … and here we are.   i’m settled in with Nick & Christianna in Durham, in my second week of work, etc.  we’re still missing candi and stacy, but the rest of the team is here! we’re loving diving into new relationships at journey church and fleshing out more of the vision and plan for our own church’s launch.  while i am already sick of driving 30 minutes to get anywhere, i’m proud of the fact that i’ve mastered the routes to work, church, and the closest starbucks!

work is great so far … (i work at a starbucks in cary!) i am learning a lot and enjoying getting to know my co-workers. there are a couple of people from journey who live near and frequent that store, so i already get to see friends at work 🙂 i get to drink a lot of coffee at work, and since i have to wear black shoes, it was a good excuse to buy a new pair of toms.  (don’t judge me!)

now, about that salad …. the ladies (the smarter and better looking half) of the church plant team got together last week for some goodies and hanging out, so i wanted to come up with something that would be yummy, {sort of} healthy, and main course-ish. i found this salad on pinterest and …. shazam. here’s what you need:

  • romaine lettuce, chopped (we did small servings for 8 people and used 3 hearts)
  • crumbled feta
  • 2 med. pears, chopped
  • THICK sliced bacon, fried crisp and chopped
  • chopped pecans
  • dried cranberries
  • poppyseed dressing and balsamic vinaigrette (a 3 poppyseed to 1 balsamic ratio)

arrange the lettuce on a large platter or in a bowl …. layer the feta, cranberries, chopped pear, bacon and pecans …. mix the dressings in a separate bowl, then pour over the salad and toss. serve with bread and you’ve got a bangin dinner.  **couple of cook’s notes here …. i’m not a huge fan of pears-  i think they are too soft and lack punch, so i next time i make this i’m going to substitute  gala or granny smith apples.  a little more crunch and tartness! and it was super expensive to buy plain pecans, so i used glazed ones instead …. holy crap.  diamond has small bags of them in the salad dressing aisle …. those things rocked my world.  i could eat them all the time. new favorite snack! but be good and chop enough for the salad … as a reward, you can eat the rest 🙂 **

keep praying for us … a few people still need jobs, and we’re entering into this season knowing that we have a lot of work to do and seeking wisdom.  pray for wisdom, favor, provision, cheaper gas prices (haha! but seriously … ), continued unity and family within the team, and that above all, we are falling more and more in love with jesus every day.

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getting naked (originally posted 3/5/09)

and no, I’m not talking about what you think I’m talking about. get your mind out of the gutter.

this morning I was talking to a friend on office communicator (basically IM for the office. and I can’t get in trouble for being on it … all day) about some breakthroughs that we’ve been having in our personal spiritual walks- dealing with the way that we view god- and now, sitting in class (yes, I’m blogging in class. deal with it.) I’ve been catching up on stuffchristianslike.com and laughing my face off quietly so I don’t get into trouble. jon posted the other day about confessing ‘safe sins’- like “I’m not praying enough;” or “I’m not reading my bible enough”. don’t get me wrong, these things can be indicative of serious spiritual problems and should be confessed to people we trust and who will hold us accountable. but as jon also points out, no one wants to be the next person- the one with something real to confess. if the person in front of me confesses to having skipped her devos that morning, how likely am I to be honest and confess that I am struggling with impurity in a relationship, or that I’m a pathological liar … insert your sin here.

I have the amazing privilege of co-leading a small group of 5 ladies. probably one of the highlights of my week. I love monday nights! college night at chick-fil-a (which means that you get cheap awesome chicken sangwiches!) and then small group. I love those girls so much, and its been such a blessing to get to teach and learn and grown with them. a few months ago, we were talking about the desire for our small group to be a ‘safe place’ where we could be spiritually naked with each other. we desired to create an environment where we could confess our issues and sins to each other, and know that we wouldn’t be judged, but rather loved on and held accountable for change. the next week, the lord had been working on me about some things and prompted me to confess some sin areas to the girls. I fought with the lord about it (if you had heard the conversation going on in my head, you’d have sworn that I have multiple personalities . . . and who knows? maybe I do! just kidding.): lord, these girls need to believe that as their leader, I’ve got it together! they need to see that walking with you can be done! if I’ve got issues, they won’t respect me as a leader! [which is all TOTAL bull, by the way.] so I cleared my throat and spoke up. read my first blog post (funk) to see what was going on at the time. that post was basically birthed out of what I confessed to them.

the point here is not that I was going through a spiritual funk of my own making. it matters, because it prompted me to be spiritually naked with my small group. it was without a doubt the best step I have ever taken as a leader- letting the girls see my heart and my struggles. there was a collective breath around the room, and then another one of the girls spoke up. and then another. two of the girls spoke up and confessed to us as a group of sisters that they were struggling with some HARD things. things that kept them awake and night, things that were eating away at them with regret and sorrow. things that will affect them for the rest of their lives. things that satan is using to make them feel less than who they are- forgiven children of god almighty. the point here is that god worked in me to overcome my fear and moved me to make that move toward spiritual nakedness. jon calls it ‘the gift of going second’. because I had taken that plunge, those girls were given the boldness to ‘get naked’ with us and confess their sin issues to us. and the level of love nad trust that has come out of that is incredible! there is some accountability now, and the freedom that comes with knowing that people love you regardless of your baggage. we don’t have to ‘dress up’ for each other any more. the level of openness went through the roof.

for myself, I know that I am more apt to trust a leader if I know that they aren’t perfect. I need to know that whoever I’m following is also still being sanctified. i need to know that although they’re a few steps ahead of me, that they still have not arrived yet either. in preparing to head to florida with this church plant team, I’ve come to trust chip and the rest of the team so much more when we’ve been honest with each other. chip has some family things that really stress him out, and he struggles with keeping up with school as much as I do. the glory of it all is that we are all on this journey together! while there are levels of leadership within life and teams, we’re all still human, and we’re all still in the sanctification process. and when we are naked about that process playing itself out in us, we pave the way for others to experience that freedom as well.

share the love. get naked.

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