Jesus said : Follow me
One of the last things Jesus said to his followers after his resurrection was :
‘Go, and make disciples’
The word disciple means more than a follower. In Jesus’ time, it was more akin to studying for a degree and an apprenticeship. To be a disciple, you had to give up two or three years of your life, be accepted by a Rabbi (teacher-guru), and be determined to shadow your mentor.
Disciples lived, worked, travelled with their Rabbis - making them the centre of their life.
The call of Jesus, a key purpose of the church, is not to grow ‘members’ (people who agree or like the teachings given), but disciples (people who commit themselves to becoming like Jesus). Arguably, this means that the definition of a ‘strong’ church is not so much how many people attend, but how many are active ‘disciples’.
At the heart of being a ‘disciple’ is the willingness to be changed by God; to be ‘open’ to being transformed into a more Christ-like person. The path of discipleship is therefore a long one. It involves striving to be totally committed to Jesus, his way of life, and his work in the world.
Disciples believe they are literally Christ here and now, and though unworthy and very far from perfect, believe they are God’s main choice to bring about his kingdom in the world.
To be a disciple in the 21st century demands discipline.
With so much happening and so many things changing, those who choose to be disciples need a lot of time to ‘read’ what’s going on in their world and explore what Jesus’ handbook (the Bible) has to say about it. They will need not only to understand God’s values, but to act on them, learning all the time. They will also need others to support, guide, challenge and oversee them.
With church services being a wide public affair, and our own prayer times fairly self-orientated, the recommended key to active discipleship seems to be small group work. By gathering regularly, ideally weekly; the disciples share their weekly joys and sorrow, and support each other in their chosen action. Discipleship groups