A very simple way to define discipleship is to become more like Jesus in every aspect of our lives (Dallas Willard’s work provides a great resource for working through a definition like this). Over the past few weeks on InDepth we’ve explored how discipleship benefits most from:
It’s a well traveled phrase in church circles that “the church is one generation away from extinction.” Unfortunately, this often leads to a quick look around the worship facility for “young people” to determine if the church will continue. That is not at all how this fits within the conversations about discipleship. Discipleship is about Christ-likeness and not about church participation and attendance (yes, there is a relationship but not always in the way we believe). In other words, true kingdom-oriented conversations about discipleship should have a high level of urgency.
And, yet, I have participated in many conversations about discipleship that weren’t much different from making the choice between a 12-count and 18-count bag of hotdog buns. John Kotter’s book A Sense of Urgency suggests that developing an appropriate sense of urgency is one of the most important aspects of organizational vibrancy.
Jesus instructs to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). This kingdom imperative supersedes any particular expression of a mission or collection of academic programs. I can say from personal experience that as I’ve grown in my own understanding that I am called to be a disciple-maker in my own life my sense of urgency for Winebrenner to function in this way has also grown. Last fall, as part of a denominational forum focused on discipleship I was able to interact with Rob Wegner from KC Underground and Brian Phipps from Disciples Made. I asked them about a “next step” that a school like Winebrenner could take to further develop our commitment to discipleship and their answer was an affirmation for my own experience: all employees – instructors, staff, and administrators – need to view themselves as disciple-makers.
So, a starting point to develop urgency may simply be to develop a deeper sense of personal disciple-making. Or, if that is already in place, a greater level of intentionality and collective action may be needed. Regardless of the specific “next step” any organizational conversations about discipleship need to be driven by a growing awareness of the kingdom-urgency that this priority invites.
- Brent C. Sleasman, President