Saturday, October 23, 2010

Balance In Discipleship

An interesting point raised by the Right Reverend Patrick Moore:
"My main question to you is: Is the congregation where we do our discipleship stuff or is it the world? Is it God-Church-World or God-World-Church?"

I had written:
"Your congregation is a community of disciples in which you have chosen do your discipleship stuff."

It may have been clearer for me to have written:
"Your congregation is a community of disciples with whom you have chosen do your discipleship stuff."

But it is an interesting distinction, isn't it? The answer to Patrick's question is really, "Yes." We do our discipleship stuff in the congregation, meaning in community with other disciples. And we do our disicpleship stuff in the world, meaing the community is an outwardly focused one.

Yes, disciples are supposed to be "out there" in the world as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, serving others, offering love and grace, sharing in acts of justice and mercy, and so forth. And at the same time, we are the ekklesia, called together to be the church.

It's the same with individual discipleship, I believe. There's always a balance to strike between personal holiness and social holiness. Too much personal holiness leads to a christology in which I carry my Jesus around in a little box, and would take him out and kiss, kiss, kiss, and put him back again. (I still cannot believe anyone ever thought that song was okay to teach to children!)

Too much social holiness makes the church just another political action committee, one more on the list of really good groups doing really good stuff in the community, and asking you for your money to support all of their really good work.

Christian discipleship is not "either inward or outward," it is "both inward and outward." Jesus invites people to come to him, then sends them out to serve others. When Christian discipleship tilts too much inward, the disciple begins to wither. When Christian discipleship tilts too much outward, the disciple becomes exhausted.

Likewise, when the congregation is too inward, it stops growing and slowly fades away. But when it is too outward, the people become tired and burned out. In reality, the former condition is much more prevalent than the latter, but we do well not to tip the scale too far in our corrective efforts.

The pattern we are going to be using at Campbell, LIVE-GROW-SHARE, asks people to balance all three of these aspects. "Live" is the worship component, both corporate worship services and personal devotion time. "Grow" is that inward focus and "Share" is the outward expression. I believe that all three must be in balance for healthy discipleship.

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