Wednesday, June 06, 2012

198. Discipleship and Imitation Part 2

If we are willing to let Jesus be our primary point of reference for what it means to make disciples, then discipleship is fundamentally about imitation. Jesus said every disciple who is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Lk. 6:40) Without imitation, then making disciples will drift into information giving. Information and teaching are good, but lets not make the act of teaching synonymous with making disciples. (Even the great commission in Matthew 28 draws a distinction between these two activities by using two different words for making disciples and teaching)

If disciple making is fundamentally about imitation, then it would be helpful to know what essential components need to be in place in order for imitation to take place. I think they can be boiled down to the following: 1.) Physical Proximity 2.) Relational Frequency and 3.) Situational Variety.

1. Physical Proximity: You may be able to coach someone over the phone or through the internet, but you can not disciple them through this medium. Why? Because in order to truly disciple someone they have to have access to the patterns and practices of your life. They have to literally be around you so they can observe your life and learn to imitate the parts of your life that are worth imitating. This requires physical proximity so you can share the same space and synchronize portions of your life for real, in person interaction.

2. Relational Frequency: Even if I have physical proximity with someone I am discipling, if I dont open up the rhythm of my life to them in both an organized and organic way, then they will not have adequate exposure to my life. People can only imitate what they have been exposed to. As a general rule, I have an organized meeting once a week with those I am discipling where I go through tools called LifeShapes crafted by 3DM. I also have organic times where I spontaneously invite people over or we do life together over meals or recreation. This happens, ideally, on a weekly basis. A weekly organized meeting and a weekly encounter on the fly. Most months the rhythm is checkered for the organic times, but the organized huddle is week in and week out.

3. Situational Variety: the people I am discipling need to encounter me in multiple scenarios and contexts. If I only meet with people in a classroom setting, then lets be honest....I am not discipling them, I am just doing some really up close teaching and coaching. Discipleship means I invite them into the rhythms of my life. They need to seem me hug my wife, pray for people in the Walmart parking lot, witness to people at the local court house. They need to see me in church settings, in entertainment settings where I just chill, have fun, and hang out. So here it is in a diagram.

Making disciples the way Jesus did it requires us to have a level of intentionality and openness with our lives. People do not get discipled on accident. We disciple people by inviting people into the rhythms of our life and saying to them "Follow me as I follow Christ." We have to be strategic with our time and the way we organize our lives so that the people we are investing in not only have access to us, but have access to us in different scenarios and contexts. I think this is what Jesus is getting at when he says that a disciple who is "fully trained" will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40.) Without these 3 components being a part of the discipling relationship, then imitation will be only one or two dimensional. There will be a lack of exposure, and consequently, a lack of imitation. By definition, this translates into a lack of discipleship. 

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