Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus

At the tail end of his earthly ministry, the resurrected Jesus appeared to his eleven disciples and commanded them to “make disciples.”
I know. 
You’ve heard it a thousand times. Perhaps you didn’t even bother to pause long enough to read the passage of Scripture above because you recognized it as “the Great Commission” passage. 

Been there. Done that. Right?

But this time, I dare you to stop and ponder it for a moment. Consider this question: 
How would Jesus’ eleven disciples have understood Jesus’ command to “make disciples”?
If you’ll graciously allow me more than a little poetic license here, I’d like to take a shot at answering that question. When Jesus commanded his original eleven disciples to “make disciples,” I suggest that they would have heard something like this: 
“Guys, you know what I’ve done with you for the last three-and-a-half years? Repeat that in the exact same way over and over again. Starting right now as you go about your lives, do exactly what I did with you... with others... and help them do it with others without ever stopping. When you tell others about me, some will believe and follow me. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Be sure to pull them close—like I did with you—and show them how to love God, love people, and make disciples... until every ethnic group in the world has disciples who are making more disciples. As you live my disciplemaking way of life, you can have full assurance of my presence, power, and provision—for I am always with you.”

The Birth of Jesus-Like Disciplemaking Movement
So how did the eleven disciples respond to Jesus’ command to “make disciples”? Did they understand? Better yet, did they obey? 
The Bible is clear. Together, as they went, they sought to live and replicate Jesus’ pattern for disciplemaking... in the exact same way as Jesus... over and over. And a Jesus-like disciplemaking movement was born. About twenty-five years later, the Apostle Paul (not one of the original eleven disciples) wrote about his Jesus-like disciplemaking way of life this way:
“Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” —1 Corinthians 4:16-17 (bold mine)

Jesus, the Twelve, Paul, and Every Church
It started with Jesus who showed his closest friends—the original eleven disciples (and many other disciples)—how to make disciplemakers. In the pattern of Jesus, these original disciples made more disciples of Jesus. Later, this Jesus-like disciplemaking way of life transformed Paul. It was precisely because Paul was imitating Jesus’ disciplemaking way of life that he could say to others, “I urge you to imitate me” (see also 1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul passed this Jesus-like disciplemaking way of life on to many others including Timothy, the church at Corinth, and “everywhere in every church” (italics mine). These cadres of Jesus-like disciplemakers were the very first Disciplemaking Learning Communities—the disciplemaking genius of Jesus at work.

And they changed the world.

Where Is the Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus Today?
Stop and think about this for a moment. 
Would you say that the disciplemaking pattern exemplified by Jesus, his disciples, and Paul is clear and primary today? 
Of course, Jesus-like disciplemakers and Disciplemaking Learning Communities have been present in some way, shape, or form in every age since Jesus. But somewhere along the way—over the years—across the cultures, have we drifted away from the clarity and primacy of the disciplemaking genius of Jesus? 
In other words, when it comes to Jesus-like disciplemaking, could it be that we have lost the original point of reference and are spending a good deal of time confidently walking in circles and we’re not even aware of it?
Let’s get personal. 
Have you lost sight of what Jesus means when he commands you to “make disciples”? 
Dream with me for a minute. 
What would happen if you became obsessed with loving Jesus and living a Jesus-like disciplemaking way of life? 
What could God do if you gathered together with just a few others who are passionate about living a Jesus-like  disciplemaking way of life?
It’s this gathering together with a few others who are passionate about living a Jesus-like disciplemaking way of life that I want to explore with you. We call this gathering of aspiring Jesus-like disciplemakers a Disciplemaking Learning Community—or DLC.

Why Is a DLC So Critically Important? 
The life of Jesus shows us that the delivery conduit for disciplemaking is a Disciplemaking Learning Community. STOP! Go back and re-read the that sentence again. It’s really important. Think about it. A Disciplemaking Learning Community is not simply an ingredient for making disciples like Jesus—it’s how Jesus made disciples. (See Mark 3:13-15.)  The disciplemaking genius of Jesus is his Disciplemaking Learning Community.

The Big Question You Must Dare to Wrestle with a Few Others
If it’s true that the disciplemaking genius of Jesus is his Disciplemaking Learning Community, then that brings us to a very important question:
What does a Jesus-like Disciplemaking Learning Community look like in our 21st century Western culture?
Now that’s a great question.
Short answer: I don’t fully know. 
I do know it’s not likely that we’ll all quit our day jobs and travel around for miles on foot together—like Jesus did with his disciples. My wife and seven kids would prefer a van—a large van. While I don’t fully know the answer to that question... I know it’s the right question. And I am learning. For years I’ve been prayerful and intentional about doing life in a Disciplemaking Learning Community—though I didn’t know to call it that. And I’m constantly failing, reflecting, and tweaking as we go. From time to time, I experience some aspect of a 21st century equivalent of a Jesus-like Disciplemaking Learning Community. These have wrecked my life... in life-giving ways. I’m hungry for more. 
Way more.
So I invite you to join me on an adventure of trying to wrap the arms of our hearts and minds around what a Jesus-like Disciplemaking Learning Community looks like in our 21st century Western culture.

Your adventure starts herehere, and here.

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