Pay Attention to Methodist History in New Structures

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disciples or worshiping congregations

I think the point is sadly and badly missed. Jesus is saying to make disciples (i.e. Jesus folowers, Jesus imitators) of Him. Others are not our disciples. The effect of "worshiping congrregations" often results in internally focused or self focused (our worship, our church etc) congregations. Where are the new converts to christianity? Wesley preached outdoors to the poor and there a great revival broke out. Are we good enough disciples to say "we found the Lord, come and see"! The world around us is in desperate need of the Good News, and to become Jesus imitators...
As for the Message translation, go look at Is 7:14 "A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant." This is a far cry from God's giving a sign of a girl who will concieve AS as virgin...virtually every woman that gets pregnant was once (presently) a virgin!!

Craig Carmichael-Stoner more than 4 years ago

discipling vs disciple making

Thank you Christy and Tom. I have been uncomfortable with the disciple making paradigm for a while. We really don't have that power, do we? Am I a good enough disciple to tell someone to imitate me? Can I ask people to do things I don't do? Instead I can gather with them, preach, pray, teach and lead, with others, not over them, and we help each other to be disciples.
The process and the relationship are more important than particular outcomes. having said that, if our communities of disciples decline and close then we will soon be rendered ineffective or even extinct!
We do have to care for the health of our organizatins as much as we do for the members of them.

Jeff Conn more than 4 years ago

Core Business: making disciples or creating worshiping congregations

Thank you for stating that our core business is not "making disciples of Jesus Christ" but is in creating worshiping congregations. I have wrestled for years with the question, "How do I make a disciple of someone else?"

I can seek to live as a disciple, but for me to "make" a disciple indicates a power I just don't have over the life of another, nor is it a power I should have. That is in God’s hands--I am a participant in that task but not the primary mover.

I am in the midst of writing a book about the church as garden, and am more and more aware that it is my job to create good soil where the seed may grow and reproduce, but I myself can’t make the seed do its job. I can only create the best place for it to live into its potential. The actual growth of the seed is very much in the hands of God and is also affected by multiple outward factors, such as weather, systemic diseases, unexpected pests and dozens of other things that are out of my control. My primary job is to enrich the dirt and have it ready so the seed can grow well. That’s what the worshiping community can and should do.

I look afresh at Matthew 28:17-20, here from The Message translation. After the resurrection, the eleven disciples are looking for Jesus.

"The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally. Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: 'God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.'"

Jesus has the authority--and gave to those who followed him closely their responsibility to the nations: Go out and train everyone--that is what Methodists have historically done by our methods. That’s what makes us Methodist. We train those who are responding to that glorious prevenient grace by giving them a place to grow, thrive, and reproduce. When we are not doing that, we have lost our way. And that is best done by the local connection where people can indeed say to one another, “How goes it with your soul?”

Christy Thomas more than 4 years ago


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