My dad has an old 1964 Chevy pickup. It is beaten up a little with fading red and white paint and a rusty patch here and there; just a good ole’ farm truck built for hauling stuff. Since I have no truck of my own I frequently borrow my dad's to pick up lumber or move larger items. When I drive my dad’s truck my ‘cool factor’ goes up a notch or two. I know this because Levi, a member of our church who is a former motorcycle club member, told me so. In fact, he thought before I drove the truck, I was just a Star Wars guy. But after seeing me drive that truck I was a cool laid back Star Wars guy.
There is just one problem. This old truck has a tendency to stall. Sometimes it just wants to stop running and goes dead. When it does this it can be hard to get it started again. Having a stalled truck in the middle of the road doesn’t look so cool. If I try in vain to get it started again, it doesn’t really bring my cool factor up either.
Discipleship is like my dad’s truck. It is cool. Discipleship is a big word and concept right now. While it has always been a concern and passion for the church, it seems to be on the forefront of church leaders’ minds nowadays. This is a good thing. The church needs discipleship. We need to be aware that Christians need to grow in the ways and knowledge of God. It is the church’s job to make sure that its members know what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it out, and how to share it with others. All this makes discipleship cool.
But discipleship, just like the truck, can stall. My church has a process for discipleship. While we have several avenues for discipleship, there is a more formal one that seems to be working well. For the past couple of year, we have groups of people work through materials which take them through most of the core doctrine of the church and how we can walk with Christ on a daily basis. The response has been, overall, very positive. Many people have said this process has not only given them a better understanding of their faith but has also motivated them to live it out. But one of the components is that after walking through this material, they must then turn around and take others through it. This is where it seems to stall. A very small percentage have made the turn from going through the discipleship process to leading the discipleship process. Discipleship has stalled.
What is the answer? The gospel. If these individuals caught the vision to spread and share the gospel, wouldn’t they be motivated to continue the process? If these guys and gals knew the burning truth of what Christ has done for them, wouldn’t they want to help others pass this truth down to the generations and throughout the whole community? The answer to the stall is Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for us. The answer is the gospel. We need to have the right view of what we lead people to know. Jared C. Wilson puts it like this, “My gospel is burning a hole in my pocket. It’s an ember smoldering, singeing my threads and my thigh. It is leaving a mark. It is branding me. It cannot be contained. My gospel is a wildfire waiting to happen. It scorches dry earth, lays waste to dead limbs.” This should be how we view and feel about the gospel.
When people see a process rather than the gloriousness of the gospel, they will stall. But when we continue to uphold the gospel and what Christ has done, then they will see the purpose of discipleship. They will see how the process can move someone else to see the glory of Christ and His work. 2 Corinthians 3:18 points out that it is by “beholding the glory of the Lord” that we are transformed. If we want our discipleship to be transformative than we better be hold up the Lord for others to behold.