What does the church need for discipleship? It is almost a backwards question. It should be the disciples asking, how do we function as a church. But that is the state of things today. We have churches full of people that haven’t been discipled.
With the demise of bible schools, and one close to my heart, a lot of people are asking questions like: how do we replace these ministries geared towards young adults? How do we replace the schools that taught our movement’s distinctive theology? How can we ensure that our kids have the same kind of experience that we did?
Those are the wrong questions.
Here is a better one: how does one reach maturity in Christ? I’ve participated in many discipleship ministries and activities. I’ve taught at the college level, led small groups, house churches, preached, mentored and personally cared for people. Here is what I found.
The process of progressing towards Christlikeness is as much about healing as it is learning, it is more about perspective than knowledge, it is more about relationship than accomplishment.
In this post I’m going to talk about the first one: healing and learning.
I’ve walked with, cared for, mentored a number of different people over the last 10 years. What they need more than anything is healing and for that they need connection. Now connection is kind of modern word but it summarizes the biblical concepts of fellowship, abiding, oneness with Christ and each other.
Why is healing important? Without healing we don’t see things accurately. Our perspective is skewed. With our perspective skewed we our ability to learn is impaired. We can teach broken people things, we can give them biblical principles to learn and apply, but their ability to live these things out is significantly diminished. The more wounded people are, the more they live in shame, the more Christianity turns in to a dead religion that just becomes another means to find some sense of personal worth or distract themselves from the pain that lives inside them. Sometimes things get so twisted that what people hear is completely different from what is being said.
I think good theology is as beautiful as art. One needs have to be geared a certain way to see it that way, but that is the way I am geared. I am not geared to appreciate a fine painting in a gallery, but I do know what would even more difficult for me to appreciate it if my vision was blurry. Teaching beautiful theology to broken people is like getting people who can’t see well to appreciate a visual art.
Luk 11:34 NET. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is diseased, your body is full of darkness.
I think this is one reason the church spends most of its time teaching and yet people learn so little. We have the cart before the horse. We cannot learn until healing has started. To continue the healing process, we need to learn and come to a better understand of who God is. One is no less essential than the other, but an inordinate focus on either leaves us in an impoverished state.