Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why Discipleship & Mission Must Go Together

Photo Credit: openg
Mike Breen explores why Christian mission must be accompanied by deep discipleship:
" has to be said: God did not design us to do Kingdom mission outside of the scope of intentional, biblical discipleship and if we don’t see that, we’re fooling ourselves. Mission is under the umbrella of discipleship as it is one of the many things that Jesus taught his disciples to do well. But it wasn’t done in a vacuum outside of knowing God and being shaped by that relationship, where a constant refinement of their character was happening alongside of their continued skill development (which included mission).

The truth about discipleship is that it’s never hip and it’s never in style…it’s the call to come and die; a “long obedience in the same direction.” While the “missional” conversation is imbued with the energy and vitality that comes with kingdom work, it seems to be missing some of the hallmark reality that those of us who have lived it over time have come to expect: Mission is messy. It’s humbling. There’s often no glory in it. It’s for the long haul. And it’s completely unsustainable without discipleship.

This is the crux of it: The reason the missional movement may fail is because most people/communities in the Western church are pretty bad at making disciples. Without a plan for making disciples (and a plan that works), any missional thing you launch will be completely unsustainable. Think about it this way: Sending people out to do mission is to send them out to a war zone. Discipleship is not only the boot camp to train them for the front lines, but the hospital when they get wounded and the off-duty time they need to rest and recuperate. When we don’t disciple people the way Jesus and the New Testament talked about, we are sending them out without armor, weapons or training. This is mass carnage waiting to happen. How can we be surprised that people burn out, quit and never want to return to the missional life (or the church)? How can we not expect people will feel used and abused?"
To read Breen's complete post please click here.

(h/t to Bryan Loritts via Eric Mason for the link.)


Beav said...

like it.

what do you think discipleship should look like or how could we equip people to be engaging that as it relates to the call to cross cultures? We're currently sending more and more people into that war zone, but it makes me nervous that there's not much conversation still about what is involved or what should be involved for people in terms of their own discipleship as they step out on in mission.

On a practical level - we're working hard organizational about sending more teams cross-culturally, but I don't see the conversations about the discipleship challenges in that discussion. What steps do you think we can take in the near future to emphasize disciplemaking for those coming into the EFM world?

scottmcrocker said...

Thanks for your comment, Brian. I don't know if I have a particularly insightful perspective on this but I think it must start in our own self-feeding spiritually. As missionaries, we need to be committed to our own spiritual nourishment through the spiritual disciplines (however that may look for us) and being part of a solid church community.

I don't believe that Cru is able to (nor should) try to provide everything that someone needs for their spiritual growth. We can provide basic and foundational equipping, but we are ill-equipped to provide all a student or missionary needs for walking with Christ for a lifetime. We need the broader body of Christ for that.

Along with that, we must also be committed to being in community with others. For those of us ministering cross-culturally, part of being in community is learning from and sitting under the teaching of those from the communities we are serving.

In my own journey, I think a critical component of my discipleship has been a number of African American mentors that I have had (whether they realized they were "mentoring" me or not) that have helped me to understand God and the Christian life in a different manner than from the white, evangelical context in which I was initially developed.