What do we believe about small?

There is a general consensus that a small setting/few people are better for connecting with each other and with God.  Almost all denominations have small groups.  Some denominations are just small 🙂 We have the house church movement. Small Christian communities can be found all over the world.  Most of the leavers of the organised part of church actively promote a smaller setting for coming together.  I am one of them.

But for some time I’ve been wondering, how far are we willing to take what we believe?  Let me explain.  If we believe in small personal settings for getting to know God, do we then also believe in the preciousness of the small everywhere?   Will we rather go to the small one-owner store than the mall?  All around us individuals are trying to make it on their own little space.  Will we be the ones who connect and support them?  Hairdresser, mechanic, bookshop etc.

The reason I ask is because, especially in business, there are large systems at work.  These systems do not really care about the small guy/gal.  (The church is not the only space around us who became a system.)  We live in these systems.  Are we going to get out of them as well, or is it only the church that bothers us?

What are your thoughts?

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Discipleship on and on and on

Yesterday, I equaled discipleship with the relationship a parent with a baby/newborn.  That’s exactly what I believe discipleship is.  When a baby is born, it is the parents that have to find their feet.  They are the ones who have to get up at night.  It is their schedule that is compromised.  I say this because lots of people see discipleship as a relationship where the child has to do everything the parent tells him/her.  The discipleship movement was especially tough in this area.

So, you have a new born Christian on your hands.  What do you give him/her?  What do you do?  In the beginning there’s lots of poop and crying.  It the parents that clean up the mess, not the child.  They spend a lot of time with each other.  Bonding takes place.  The child starts to crawl.  He/she starts to copy what the parents do.  After a while they give their steps.  They fall.  It’s important to know here that a child is not told how to walk.  He/she is shown.  And they will fall.  That’s OK.  You have to let them fall; otherwise they will never get the walk-thing.  Slowly over time they learn what’s it like to be part of a family.  They learn how to play.  I’ve read about it and seen it.  Children who are loved and know they are loved, explore more.  Their world is bigger.  The love they feel, give them the security to move farther away from us.  And so, time goes on.  In teenager stage they might rebel.  Question everything.  See a bigger world full of unjust things.  Become more self-interested.  They ask questions like “What is my place” in all of this.  How do I fit in?  Do I want to fit in?  (Important these questions are.)  More time goes by.  They grow up and come to a place where they are ready to be parents.  You don’t see each other as much as when they were babies.

That to me is discipleship.  I think it’s also important to note that it’s also the interaction of two paths.  You are on your road towards more of God.  He/She is on THEIR road towards God.  It’s not the same path.  The greatest gift you can give a person is to let him/her find their own path.  Let them make mistakes.  Let them seek.  Don’t give so many answers.  Ask them what they want to do, and let them do it even when you know they may fail.  You are NOT helping the person if he/she becomes a replica of you.  If you control the person or use control to do what you want, you are not of God.  Jesus actually made it very difficult for people to stay with Him.  They could walk away at any time.  The parent is the servant.  Not the other way around.  As time goes by, you will spend less time with each other.  You will not see each other twice or three times a week.  Perhaps once a month or less.  Time will take you apart.  You will call each other friends because that is what you became and the bonds will be strong even if you are many miles apart.

Pro 27:17  Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Ecc 4:9  Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.  Ecc 4:10  If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him. Ecc 4:11  If it is cold, two can sleep together and stay warm, but how can you keep warm by yourself ? Ecc 4:12  Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of three cords is hard to break.

In the end, I believe discipleship is friends walking together in Jesus.

Discipleship is too slow

I’ve been thinking a lot about discipleship the last few weeks.  I’ve written about discipleship before and much of this post will echo that post’s sentiment.  Maybe it’s just the sceptic in me, but I do not know if we will ever see discipleship functioning in the church.  It’s just too slow for us.

Let me give you a quick round-up what I believe on discipleship.  It’s a process of a babe becoming a grown-up and a grown-up helping the babe along the way.  It’s not something we have in the church.  We believe more in the jug-to-mug way as Mark put it today.  I’m going to give some numbers as to the time frame I believe in.  Please, these are not set in stone.  I’m wrong a lot.  Don’t bite my head off if you differ from me.

I always connect discipleship with 1 John 2 where we find these verses.

1Jn 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
1Jn 2:13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
1Jn 2:14 I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

We all know these verses.  I like these verses because there is an element of growth in them.(From babe to grown-up).  Also, these verses show that it doesn’t matter how “old” you are, God is just as present with the babe as with the grown-up.

Time frame wise – You must be at least 28 years old to be a father/mother and I am being very lenient with the 28.  I would prefer 30-35 years old.  To go from babe to grown-up – at least 8 years when you have someone who is discipling you.  If you had to fend for yourself like most of us had to(children growing up by themselves) – 15 to 20 years.  This is a very broad generalization.  There is no rule when it comes to God.  He can use anybody any age as He wishes.  Young people will probably kill me for this time frame.(I would have), but I believe life has to throw a lot of stuff at you, before you are ready to be a father/mother in the church.  You could also tell me that Paul began some congregations and left after only for three weeks.  I know.

All I’m trying to say is that it takes longer to go from babe to grown-up if you do not have parents.  And…some people in church, do not have the weight to be parents.  I’ve always marvelled at the irony of today’s church.  I’ve seen people getting into leadership after they have been Christians for 6 months, because they are learnt (doctor, professor, lawyer etc.), have charismatic personalities, have money, are beautiful/brawn/smart.   I can find this almost amusing, if it wasn’t so depressing.  But then again, a babe looking after babes is the norm in church, not the exception.  We are not known for our “deep” spirituality.  Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that we simply do not believe in discipleship as an option in today’s church.  In my 40 years I’ve only met 1 pastor who discipled.  It gives me the creeps when I hear about a three week course in discipleship.

We still believe church growth is about numbers or we equal knowledge with growth.  Well, from where I am standing, it seems God does not always prefer the numbers or reveals Himself to those with the most knowledge.

Discipleship is about growth.  Jesus-Life-Growth in real life.  Funny that we believe Sundays and Wednesday evenings (choose your own day) is enough for this to happen.

More tomorrow. (I hope 🙂