Many people see us speaking about making disciples here at the GCM Collective. Not only that, but we push to what it might look like to make fully formed disciples of Jesus. We go so far as to say that you cannot make fully formed disciples of Jesus without being led and empowered by the Spirit, gospel centered, in community and on mission.
When we say this, it can shock some. But here is why we say this. When one looks at “fully formed disciples” you’ll have to look back to the Scriptures and start asking some questions, or at least see how God has always formed his people and for what reason.
The starting point
“When we live in community, we are pointers to who God is and what he is like.” @sdmcbee
We see from the beginning that Adam and Eve were in community with God and that one of their main purposes was to be fruitful and multiply more image bearers on the earth to fill it with God’s glory (or more specific, image bearers of God).
Not only that but, God was the one who informed/formed Adam and Eve of their image (stating that they were very good before they did anything good or bad) and he was their Lord.
When the community of God, the people were not what God intended, he sent a flood to destroy mankind. You’ll notice what he told Noah and his family afterwards:
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
God called Abram out of his land, to be a great nation and to create a large family to show off what God was like. God made Israel a nation, to show off what he was like (not because they were great or large in number as Deuteronomy 7 points out)
God then takes this same understanding into the New Testament as Jesus calls us his church, his flock, his body, his new family to show off who God is and what he is like.
Living like a family
This understanding of being in community, empowered by God for the sake of the mission of God is all throughout God’s story. Those are just a few overarching examples.
Who is God and what is he like? One of the aspects of God is that he is triune in nature, meaning, he lives in community, One God in three persons.
When we live in community, we are pointers to who God is and what he is like.
“We must get back to the way that discipleship was intended and for what purpose.” @sdmcbee
Paul, when speaking of the body of Christ speaks about our different functions. Hand, foot, eye, ear.
To say that one can become a fully formed disciple of Jesus without being centered on the gospel, in community on mission would be like saying a man can fully function without one of his limbs. Can he function well? Yes, we see this all the time. But, the question is, “Would he function more fully if he had all his parts?” Of course he would.
Same could be asked with the family. Can a family function without a father or a mother? Yes. Would it be a far healthier family if they had all the parts of their family living for the glory of God? Yes.
We need to stop eating soup with a fork and realize it’s far more efficient to eat soup with a spoon.
What discipleship looks like with community
Same goes for discipleship.
Most have functioned in the past without community and have matured…but they will be far more formed fully in a gospel community on mission because this is how God has designed us to show off him to one another and to the world.
If we are in community on mission, as Jesus was, then we will see the different places in our lives, and the lives of others, where the gospel hasn’t come to bear on our/their lives. We find out where Jesus isn’t the King of our/their life and can bring to bear the good news so that we/they can be filled with joy!
On the mission field, together in community is where we find out if we are generous, kind, patient, forebearing, joyous, loving, faithful, etc.
This is the point of discipleship: by the power of the Spirit, through the gospel, to bring every area of our lives, and the lives of others, under the Lordship of Jesus for the glory of God and for the fullness of our joy.
Faking it in safe environments
This is exactly what Jesus did. We figure that Jesus disicpled his disciples about 80-85% of the time ON THE MISSION FIELD in the midst of the broken, not behind four walls in a safe environment. (check out this training on the way Jesus discipled: Discipleship Passages)
We think Peter was a moron because of all the stupid things he said, but it was his reactions to real life on the actual mission field. When you are in the midst of the broken you will react poorly and in the flesh and that brings to bear where you need the good news.
“We must get back to making fully formed disciples of Jesus, by the Spirit, through the gospel, in community, on mission.” @sdmcbee
As the church, we have flipped this on it’s head and spend 80-85% in a classroom or training, and then 15-20% on the mission field. I think I’m being pretty generous in those numbers, based on my experience. In that safe environment we can fake it. We can be timely in our answers. We can mask our inefficiencies in the gospel.
Getting back to it
We must get back to the way that discipleship was intended and for what purpose.
We must get back to making fully formed disciples of Jesus, by the Spirit, through the gospel, in community, on mission for the sake of the glory of God and the fullness of our joy.