Bring on the revolution
Making discipleship our top priority will transform our Movement, argues Director of Training Dave Newton.
No one ever announces a revolution. There comes a tipping point, a moment change is inevitable when the flags are raised, the crowds are gathered, and the victory parade begins.
To announce a revolution too early would not only be counter intuitive but may also have disastrous consequences.
When we announced in Elim that we were to make disciple-making a priority for our Movement few eyebrows were raised.
It was difficult to disagree with an age-old biblical command directly from the words of Jesus. But, perhaps undetected, this priority carried with it a revolutionary mandate.
In his book ‘Living in Christ’s Presence’, American philosopher Dallas Willard, sums it up this way: "If you read the Great Commission, you may not realise that it is about world revolution. If you think it is about planting churches, as important as that may be, if you think it is about evangelisation, as that is often understood – no, no, it is about a world revolution."
He goes on to explain that this is what our hearts hunger for, even when we don’t know how to approach it or go about it.
The quote resonated with me personally. I am a signed-up believer of the disciple-making mission; I am in the business of raising up disciple-makers, at least that’s what the job description suggests.
Some might have described me as a disciple-making leader, yet a sober assessment of my priorities, activities and day-to-day life told an different story.
It’s easy in the mayhem of ministry to allow everything, other than the main thing, to clog up our calendar and crowd out our focus.
When something is elevated as a priority it demands an honest re-evaluation of the other competing priorities.
And so I began this process. I asked myself some sober questions: what does it look like to be a disciple-maker? Where are the disciple-making spaces in my life? What gospel am I communicating, and does it invite people to obediently follow Jesus?
I am convinced making discipleship our top priority will transform our Movement.
As we mobilise everyday Christians as obedient Jesus-followers, continually being transformed by his Spirit and partnering with him in the mission mandate to make more disciples, there will be no need to announce a revolution - we will start to see the kingdom of heaven come on earth, and the King of kings taking his rightful place.
Bring on the revolution – one disciple at a time.
My personal plan to elevate discipleship
In response to my questions, I have sought to elevate the discipleship priority in my own life in a couple of ways:
If we are not careful ministry can often leave us in a bubble, working with and only relating to people who are like us, and believe what we do. Actually, my Holiness upbringing encouraged a separation from the world, and my schedule demanded that Christian ministry got my full focus.
Over recent years I have taken steps to make my life more accessible, creating space for others in everyday ordinary ways; meals with neighbours, coaching the local football team, and joining the table-tennis club. I have also taken opportunities to involve others in day-to-day tasks even when it’s easier to do it myself, and carved out intentional time to invest in others.
In my role you might expect me to talk about training. In fact, there have been many opportunities to think through discipleship as a Movement which have been fun and informative.
On this occasion though it was time for me to go back to school. I signed up for a course on discipleship, first and foremost to give me time and space to consider this priority afresh.
As with all good discipleship models, once you have learnt something it is time to pass it on, and I am encouraged this year to be running a disciple-making learning community with a number of Elim leaders.
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