Last month, we were invited to take part in the New England Discipleship Roundtable at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. Christian organizations from all around New England gathered to share resources and discuss the current state of discipleship in our area. As you know, by design is passionate about mentoring and discipling the upcoming generations, so this event was an exciting opportunity.
All of these organizations had been working hard and doing their best to disciple people, but during the course of the event, the point that struck home was that we were each doing it on our own, often replicating the same efforts. We discussed how we had essentially done the same work, many times over. And then it happened. Someone asked the question …
“Why are we reinventing the wheel?”
Why, indeed? We were all working towards the same goal. Let’s work together! The rest of the day was spent comparing notes, sharing anecdotes about which approaches had worked and which had not, and brainstorming ways to overcome the challenges that we all face.
A few highlight points:
People are Busy. One challenge that came up time and time again is how busy everyone seems to be. That busyness often keeps people from discipling and from being discipled. Who has time for one more thing in our schedule? And are people truly too busy, or do they just not value discipleship enough to make the time?
One attendee pointed out that “discontent overcomes busy.” When people are spiritually hungry for what they are seeing in another person’s life, they will make time for discipleship. We need to utilize the power of testimony to create the discontent to motivate the change and overcome the busy. When we normalize a missional, way-of-life perspective of discipleship, we are casting the vision that discipleship is worth prioritizing.
Social Media – bane or blessing? Statistics show that increased time on social media correlates with increased mental health issues. Social media can be damaging, but can it also be used for good? Social media is not going away, and the younger generations are more connected than ever. We as disciplers need to make the effort to utilize social media to promote healthy relationships and spiritual growth.
Speed of Change. Our culture is changing by the day. In a world that keeps spinning, how do we keep up? When we develop discipleship plans for this generation, how do we stay relevant? We’re aiming at a moving target! We can combat this challenge by becoming more flexible in how we do discipleship. As discipleship becomes rote, more program-driven and codified, it becomes less effective. We are most effective when we stand solidly on the truth of the gospel and are flexible in all else. An organic approach, focused on relationship, is often more impactful than a program.
We need everyone. Our church culture has created a model in which one is expected to have training in order to be a discipler. Many attendees referred to the “pastor discipler” or “hired professional discipler” model that infects our churches. I know women who have been walking with the Lord for decades who still feel insufficient! We need to encourage people that the Holy Spirit will do the teaching. We just need to listen to His leading.
We need to help older people know that they are not irrelevant. We need to help younger people feel that they have something significant to add. Everyone should be a discipler and everyone should be a disciple.
It was a very productive day connecting with these discipling leaders around New England. And we’re already connecting with each other to see how we can work together to accomplish more … without reinventing the wheel!
Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement.
Keep hoping. Keep praying. Keep loving.
Kristi, for WeConnect
All of our past updates are available at WeConnect’s Update Archive.