The traditional academic and doctrinal approach to discipleship
used by most churches today has not produced a significant number of
mature and effective followers of Christ.
It seems clear that something different is needed. However, I do
not want to fall into the old fallacy: something must be done; this
is something; therefore this must be done.
Something different is needed, and I think that what I
offer here is an improvement over what
we have at present. What I want to know is: can you improve it
further? Or can you suggest something else which might work better?
There is an alternative to the traditional approach, an
alternative which has been changing the lives of (previously)
ordinary church members. It involves taking them on a journey of
discovery; a journey which (oddly enough) can be described in twelve
Intention: I want to put my faith into
Love: One vital aspect of putting my faith
into practice is learning to care for needy and vulnerable people
- learning to love my (imperfect) neighbour.
Availability: Caring for people involves
making myself available to them - I have to roll my sleeves up and
do something to help.
Experience: With the help of other, more
experienced people, I do something limited but good - something
which really helps them, which is sustainable for me, which is
enjoyable for us both, and which enables me to learn how I can
help more effectively.
Understanding: As I get involved with other
people and see something of their lives, I discover that just
doing things for needy people doesn't actually make much
difference in the long run - in order to really help someone else,
I have to understand them and understand what they want.
Relationships: The beginning of understanding
is to recognise that I don't have the answers, I don't know what
people need - I can only discover what they neeed, and how to help
them, if they trust me enough to tell me who they are: it is all
Weakness: As I begin to understand the people
I'm trying to help, I discover that they are like me - and I
realise that I can help them because I know what it is to be weak
Sharing: I also discover that the things
which get in the way and prevent other people from getting their
lives sorted out are the same things which are stopping me from
getting my life sorted out.
Healing: If I want to help other people
receive God's healing and wholeness, I need to experience the same
thing myself - in order to know what is being offered, in order to
have some understanding of the difficulty of what I am asking of
them, and in order to be able to ask them to pay the price of
changing with integrity.
Change: As I allow God to work in me, to
change my life to become more like Jesus, so He is better able to
work through me to touch other people. I discover that human
activity is necessary, but not sufficient: if real, sustained
change is to take place, I need God's Spirit to touch and
Acceptance: I know deep down inside that God
loves me just the way I am, and He is able to use me just the way
I am - not because I have arrived, or achieved some level of
wisdom or holiness, but because He is loving and gracious, and
wants to bless imperfect people and help them discover the way to
Living: Having reached this point, I know
that I have arrived, not at the end of the journey, but at the
beginning of the real journey of faith. I am starting to live the
life that my Father always intended me to enjoy in Jesus - a life
I discover primarily through loving and serving others.