Monday, May 06, 2013

Discipleship as Network

Yancy Arrington:
I think for most of my life as a Christian there has been a strong chorus of voices championing one-on-one discipleship. The idea is that an individual (Person A) helps another individual (Person B) grow in the faith for a certain period of time. Once Person B has matured to a certain degree, he or she is expected find a Person C to disciple. Often the supporting rubric for this kind of relationship is tied to Paul’s relationship to Timothy.* Indeed, over the years I’ve been asked, “Yancey, who’s your Timothy?” In other words, who is the one individual I’m pouring into in order they mature enough spiritually to disciple others? This is a very popular philosophy of discipleship that has birthed programs, books, and parachurch ministries promoting the virtues of spiritual formation via discipler to disciple.

Let me very clear, I think one-on-one discipleship is a legitimate, beneficial avenue of discipleship. I’ve done it and will do it in some fashion in the future. However, I would argue that more than merely one-on-one ratios, most discipleship is found in a network of relationships.

To walk through the New Testament is to see believers exposed to the ministries of not a solitary disciplemaker but a series of gifted men and women who, in totum, contribute to the discipleship of individuals. In other words, it seems Person A is taught by teachers, preached to by preachers, exhorted by prophets, not to mention the “regular” ministry of those in the church community who bear burdens, use their gifts, intercede in prayer, and do “life on life” with Person A. Now, which of these individual’s is Person A‘s discipler? Which person is helping Person A become a fully devoted follower of Jesus?

It begs the question: Who is my discipler?
Read the rest.

No comments: