Disciples or Church-Goers?

by Shannon Youell

A few weeks ago I wrote a bit about re-engaging intentional development of apprentices  nee: disciples) of Jesus who grow into “church”. In the basic understanding of 1st C.E. Greek culture which understood ekklesia as an assembly/gathering of people who are free citizens, with the power to vote and thus have an impact on the communities in which they live, work and play, we find our traditional elements of how we define church:

Through the message and mission of Christ, we are free from the bondage of sin, having been delivered by God’s restorative love, and mercy and justice from the oppressions of the way of this fallen world in which we reside and have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and authority of Christ to likewise be deliverers of God’s mercy, love, justice, joy, hope, salvation and thus shalom  into all our spaces and places.

Likewise: in like manner; in the same way. In the manner and way of Christ. And we see Paul and others who did the same. I think Paul was very intentionally focused on walking alongside others and living this “way of life” so that they to would do the same: “

You know how we lived among you for your sake.  You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.  And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.  The Lord’s message rang out from you….your faith in God has become known everywhere. (1 Thess 1:5b-8a)

Paul took to heart what he had been given to do: to go and make disciples who became imitators of the Lord, of which Paul and company claim to also have been. And as imitators of the Lord, people living and being like Jesus, they had impact in their neighbourhoods, communities and beyond. They were ekklesia.

I titled this piece Disciples or Church-goers. I kind of did it on purpose as often we see them as one and the same. And they should be, but sadly, because we have unfortunately relegated the discipleship part of making disciples to optional, sometimes we make church-goers who aren’t disciples. Sincere, lovely, but not necessarily likewise. And isn’t it interesting to note that though sometimes church-goers aren’t always active disciples, disciples are usually active church-goers?

All this to pose the thought:  how should we go about what we usually call church planting?

It’s a good question and believe me there is no pat answer, but wouldn’t it be great to explore this deeper together?

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