- Do you struggle to follow Jesus in the day-to-day of life?
- Do you find yourself ebbing and flowing in your discipleship journey?
- Do you recognize that everyday events, emotions, stresses and strains seem to unduly impact your level of commitment to Christ?
If you answered yes to any of those three questions, you are not alone! Although it would be wonderful if each day you could simply be swept along in your relationship with God, that is not the reality of living in a fallen world. God is perfect and entirely steadfast in His faithfulness — but you are not divine, and so you are not!
However, you are not helpless in this situation either. Throughout the story of Christianity, followers of Jesus have recognized the power of setting discipleship practices and disciplines into place, in order to build some consistency into spirituality. The monastic communities called them their Rule of Life, many others have spoken of spiritual disciplines, or, more recently, of rhythms of discipleship.
These rhythms can be personal or corporate, tailored or syndicated, but their aim is the same. You will be better equipped to follow Jesus in all the ups and downs of life, especially on those days (and weeks) when you don’t much feel like following through.
Discipleship practices give a sense of order, of spiritual structure and guidance, to guide you towards the deliberate discipleship goals that you have identified as a family or community. On good days they are delightful scenery, while on bad days they are essential boundaries and guideposts that keep you moving further down the route that Jesus has set out before you.
3 Benefits Of Discipleship Practices
1. Mission Is Enhanced — These are very much practices for the mission field – because if your primary mode of disciple making is disconnected from everyday life, you’ll form disciples who are disconnected from everyday life. We are seeking to form disciples out in the world, in the local neighborhoods and the networks of relationships where we are all embedded.
2. It Makes You Specific — Your discipleship practices won’t be set in stone for eternity. As you evolve as a church community, so can your practices, or how you live them out. Rather than being a fossilized list, they can reflect what the Lord is doing with you at a specific time and place. Nevertheless, the discipline of selecting and writing them down means that you have something specific and known to pursue. Too often values and goals are simply thought about or discussed in general terms, which rarely leads to the tangibility of actual commitments to which accountability and celebration can be attached.
3. You Aim For What Is Best — Your discipleship practices will also shape your metrics. In other words, they should help you start to set, measure and hold dearly disciplines that move your church community into a more intentional missional disciple making mode.[Tweet “What are the 3 benefits of #discipleship practices?”]
Crafting Your Own Discipleship Practices
As you look at these four examples, see where you start to resonate and identify with what others have focused upon. Allow this to be a stimulus for you and your family/ team to start to prayerfully brainstorm a long-list of options, that over time you can whittle down to something concrete and tight (in other words, don’t expect to do this from scratch in just one or two meetings!). And while a nifty acrostic is helpful, ultimately it is best to pick the right words, rather than the cutest!
Examples of Discipleship Practices
- Bless – We will bless at least one other member of our community every day.
- Eat – We will east with other members of our community at least three times a week.
- Listen – We will commit ourselves weekly to listening to the promptings of God in our lives.
- Learn – We will read from the Gospels each week and remain diligent in learning more about Jesus.
- Sent – We will see our daily life as an expression of our sent-ness by God into this world.
Renew Communities, in Cleveland OH
- Read – Spend time daily reading and memorizing the Bible. Ask yourself what the Scripture is saying and how it applies to your life and the lives of those around you. Pray that God would work in your life according to what you’ve read that day
- Eat – I will eat at least 2 meals (or you can share coffee, dessert, etc.) with others this week. Eat once with a person from our church or your Missional Community and once with a non-Christian
- Neighbor – I will ask myself once daily (in places of life intersection) “who has God sent me to love” and how can I share the hope I’ve found in Christ with my neighbors
- Empowered (to bless) – I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is a non-Christian.
- Wait (pray) – I will spend one hour this week listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice.
- Begin with Prayer – We discover our mission and begin to go about our mission with prayer, asking “God, who and how would you like to bless someone today?”
- Listen – When we take the time to intentionally listen, we learn about the needs of those around us.
- Eat – We look for opportunities to share a meal because we know that nothing moves a relationship from acquaintance to friendship faster than sharing a meal.
- Serve – After praying listening, and even eating together, we serve, knowing that in serving we receive much more than we could ever give.
- Story – When the opportunity arises, we tell our story – the story of how we found our way back to God in Jesus.
For more information please read: Discover Your Mission Now: Simple Missional Practices That Will Change Your World by Dave Ferguson, Jon Ferguson and Tim Sutherland
Soma Communities, Tacoma, WA
- Story-Formed – My story (and identity) fit within God’s story
- Listen – To God and others around me
- Celebrate – Within and outside the church
- Bless – Intentionally blessing others
- Eat – With others as we invite them into Gospel community
- Recreate – Taking time to rest, play, create and restore beauty
You will notice many overlapping ideas, as well as identical, or very similar language, across different examples. It is fascinating to see where the Spirit is leading churches at this time – and informative as you seek to set discipleship practices for yourself, your household, your missional community, and your church.
What could be some simple discipleship practices that you could choose to live by for the second half of 2015?
Use the comment section below to share your thoughts and experiences.
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