Thursday, October 28, 2010

131. Discipleship and the Fourth Generation Part 3

This is Part 3 guessed it, a 3 part post on Discipleship and the Fourth Generation. (Part 1, Part 2)The 4th generation is in the Great Commission too, but it is cloaked. It is contained a sort of circular flow of returning to Jesus as the archetypal paradigm and authority for discipleship.Jesus is the 1st generation, the eleven disciples are the 2nd generation. The 3rd Generation is the Nations(ethnic groups), The key to the fourth generation in the great commission is in the phrase "teaching THEM to obey all things I have commanded you." The 4th Generation is the disciples that will be made from those disciples in the different ethnic groups. If the 12 are to teach their disciples to do all things Jesus commanded the 12 to do, this will include the command to go and make disciples. So the 12 are commanded to go and make disciples, then those disciples are taught to do what the 12 do, which is to make disciples, and that is the fourth generation. It is a bit circular, so here is a diagram to help you out.

130. Discipleship and the Fourth Generation Part 2

This is Part 2 of a three part post on Discipleship and the Fourth Generation. (Part 1, Part 3)As I was reading today in John, I noticed Jesus using the concept of the 4th generation in John 17:20-21 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

Jesus uses the 4th generation concept. I guess it would make sense to see it in Jesus first, then in his disciples, but I never hear it from this angle. It is always 2 Tim 2:2. Pretty cool eh? Paul is not the only one to use the 4th generation principle. Maybe he gets it from Jesus via Peter and James Gal 1:18-19, or direct revelation, or apostolic intuition???? Either way you spin it, Jesus had a global vision, a multiplication movement strategy with the 12. It is not just a Paul thing.

129. Discipleship and the Fourth Generation Part 1

This is the first of a three part series on Discipleship and the Fourth Generation. (Part 2, Part 3)I sat around recently and doodled in my moleskine about the concept of the fourth generation discussed in II Timothy 2:2. Paul mentions 4 generations there.

As I reflected on what makes a fourth generation of disciples possible, I became increasingly aware why the fourth generation is considered by most people to be the true test of whether you have a movement taking place. The crux of a movement is exactly that, movement. However, you can see movement in the relationship between the first and second generation. There is undoubtedly movement taking place between Paul and Timothy. however, the goal is an exponential movement, that is, movement that keeps going. Sustainable movement that is able to keep going beyond the first generation and second generation.

It is tempting to think the third generation is a sign of movement, but the third generation is deceiving for a couple reasons.

1. The first generation can still have a hand in influencing the third generation by triangulating the relationship. The first generation can influence the third generation by influencing the second generation. In this sense, the third generation is still in the orbit of the first generation, which means that movement has not really spread beyond the first generation yet. Functionally, the third generation can still be dependent on the first generation's leadership and influence. The second generation is essentially the middle man at this phase of multiplication.

2. The second generation disciple can be a charismatic person, which means they can easily gather a group of people around them. Discipleship is taking place, but it is not necessarily because the first generation has made a disciple that will be able to make another disciple, who will be able to make another disciple. If I disciple a charismatic person, they will eventually attract someone to themselves and disciple them. The discipleship process will be contained in the third generation and go no further.


The true test is whether the people who are being discipled by that charismatic person are able to make disciples as well. Its true that a charismatic person can attract another charismatic person, and the chain reaction can go on and on. This is why Paultells Timothy to commit what he has hear from him to faithful "men" (anthropos in the Greek signifying male and female), plural, more than one person.

The fourth generation disciple is a sign that a multiplication movement is taking place because the first generation has no direct hand in the fourth generation. It implies the second or third generation has developed the capacity to make disciples as well. There are two degrees of separation between he first and the second, thus pointing to the quality and effectiveness of the disciple making taking place among and between the second and third generation. To put it another way, the first disciple can make disciples who make disciples. But the real test is whether or not that second disciple can make disciples that make disciples. Because of the triangulation factor or the charismatic factor, the fourth generation is the acid test of whether or not there is a multiplication movement taking place. True imitation takes place when the second disciple is able to imitate the process of making a disciple that makes a disciple. So in essence, what we have is a second generation disciple making third generation disciples, and the process keeps going.

What this points us to is the critical dynamics of the initial discipling relationship. The quality, simplicity, sticky-ness, and reproducibility of the process, content and relationship of this initial relationship is what sets the DNA of a multiplication movement. If discipleship is about imitation, then the initial relationship is crucial to the potential for a multiplication movement to happen. 

It is interesting that Paul tells Timothy to transfer the things he has heard Paul say in front of many witnesses. In other words, the stuff that is to be transmitted is stuff that was originally shared in a larger setting with many people. Timothy is to pass on the things that Paul spoke in front of many witnesses. This implies that the content of what Paul said was able to be absorbed by many people. It was not esoteric or lofty. It was , Reproducible, Sticky and Simple, what we call here at Ikon a RSS Feed. The process and the content of your strategy for discipleship needs have these three qualities. Other wise, it will not be able to travel to the fourth generation.

Movement is not the same as multiplication. A multiplication movement is what Paul is aiming at in II Timothy 2:2. The capacity to make three generations of disciples is exceptional indeed, but you want the second generation to be able to imitate this process, and you want them to imitate it in a way that their disciples can imitate it as well. We at Ikon are using the tools and processes of 3DM to help us build a discipling culture. You might want to check them out. They have over 20 years experience in using tools that are reproducible, sticky and simple. Most of all, they have a lot of wisdom as to the process of making disciples as well.

128. Discipleship and II Timothy 2:1-2

The concept of the fourth generation in disciple making is a simple, yet profound principle. It is one of those ideas that is often passed over because of its relative simplicity. But the texts that teach us about the concept of the fourth generation have a lot of meat nestled within them. The most classic text on the concept of the fourth generation is II Timothy 2:1-2. 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 

Before we get into the mechanics of disciple making and the fourth generation, I think it is important to notice that Paul leads into the concept of disciple making by encouraging Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. This is a critical point to digest because when you start talking about training people to be followers of Jesus Christ, or even use the word discipleship in some circles, it can sometimes conjure up experiences of spiritual abuse, control and manipulation, or just flat out driven personalities who see the concept of multiplication as a way to increase their bragging rights on how much they have been able to "produce" through their discipling efforts. Paul leads into a discussion about disciple making with a word on grace because disciple making is has to be rooted in a healthy understanding of our role in the disciple making process. We do not produce fruit in other people, we do not transform them, we are not the source. the grace of Jesus Christ is the transforming power, we are merely the conduit, the sign and the one who points to the source of power. We are merely a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

This has real implications for discipling relationships and the way we disciple people. When we are weak on grace, we are hard on people. Steve Cockrham with 3DM is fond of saying that you have to calibrate "invitation and challenge" in the discipleship process. This means you have to invite people into relationship, a process that gives them the tools to do what you are challenging them to do. From a theological standpoint, this means modeling the invitation that God gives us through Jesus to enter into Covenant with him to those we are discipling. This is a grace filled invitation that is filled with patience, forgiveness and love. The dynamic of challenge is a part of the equation, but it is in tandem and commensurate with the level of grace and invitation we extend to those we are discipling.

Richard Rohr says that whatever doesn't get transformed, gets transmitted. If discipleship is primarily about imitation, then our capacity to internalize and demonstrate the grace of Jesus Christ in our own lives first will go a long way in shaping the kind of discipling culture you will build through your discipling relationships.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

127. Francis Chan, Mark Driscoll, Josh Harris and APEST

What's Next for Francis Chan? A Conversation with Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris from Ben Peays on Vimeo.

I don't usually blog about high profile people, but I couldn't help but put my two cents in on this one. I heard about this discussion between Driscoll, Chan and Harris a while back, but I just stumbled on it tonight on the internet. As I listened to Chan, I resonated with several things he said about the poor, suffering, being motivated by love....but I also heard Driscoll looking for some balance in approach to poverty vs. wealth, simplicity vs. complexity etc. What seemed odd to me is that they both looked on what Chan was doing as though it was sort of ....odd.

There is a deeper, underlying impulse going on here that I think could bring clarity to the pathway Francis Chan has chosen. After spending a significant amount of time studying Ephesians 4, I have come to the conclusion that everyone is gifted with all five of the APEST giftings, but each person has each of these giftings in different measures. That is, each person has a primary, secondary tertiary etc. In my opinion, after hearing Francis Chan speak and reading some of his writings, Chan is gifted as a prophet, with some obvious teaching gifting thrown in the mix. I don't know the guy well enough to know which is primary and which is secondary etc., but it is clear that he is extremely God focused, he calls people to a higher standard, he energizes the community and often talks about his experiences of encountering God in dramatic ways. He is unique in this way, but not so unique that he is all by himself. There are countless other people in the body who have this same thing going on, they just do not share the same platform and exposure as Chan.

When Harris started the session, he responded to a comment Driscoll made by saying "It the whole King dynamic." This is, I assume, he is describing Driscoll from the typology that I have heard Driscoll use of describing leaders with the one of the metaphors of Prophet, Priest or King. Honestly, I struggle with this because the way I have heard it explained, it sounds like a recycled version of the "E-Myth" book. It sounds good at first (to some), but for me it just muddies the waters at precisely the point we need clarity on functions in the body. It is short and sweet, but Jesus did not give the church a three-fold ministry, he gave it a five-fold ministry.

We have a five-fold description of the functions people play in the body in Ephesians 4. If we would stick with the scriptural template of APEST, then it wouldn't be so bizarre that Chan is distancing himself from the established community and diving into a highly incarnational form of ministry. He is a prophet, and this is one of the things prophets do naturally. They help the church become incarnational by incarnating the values of God in tangible, concrete, often dramatic ways. If we understood the Ephesians 4 ministry matrix, we would be able to see how natural it is for Chan to be going in this direction, and instead of questioning the trajectory of his ministry and trying to some how align it with other well traveled trajectories, we can celebrate it and learn from it, be inspired by it and empower it.

This interview is a classic case where a thorough understanding of APEST would helps us appreciate and affirm what we see happening in a high profile, obviously very prophetic teacher, in stead of scratching heads and thinking something is amiss. What is amiss, I would say, is that the church had a very limited leadership structure for Chan to occupy....pastor/teacher....and all this time, in Chans own words...he knew something wasn't right. Its not that the whole church isn't right. What isn't right is the narrow, pastor/teacher leadership structure that forces prophets like Chan into a one size fits all mold of preaching to the established church instead being on the frontier and doing what they do best in the frontier. Praise God Chan has the courage to step out and follow the calling and gifting that Jesus gave him when He ascended on high and gave gifts to men. Chan is modeling to us that we have to have integrity in our gifting and calling. He is an inspiration and encouragement to me, as I too had to leave the pastor/teacher monarchy and move out into the frontier to follow my calling to function apostolically. (Although, it would be nice to do that with the same access to resources that Chan has. Just being honest =)

I am doing some writing with Alan Hirsch and Mike Breen on this very topic of APEST and we hope to broaden the churches vision of the inherent, Jesus-given giftings in the body that provide the focus and trajectories for ministry expressions. It is my hope that this material will help alleviate some of the confusion and contention that naturally surfaces when we try to retro-fit an existing five-fold dynamic in the body into a two-fold leadership/organizational/ministry structure.