Discipleship seems to be the new trend in Christian Netherlands. One study day quickly follows another and almost every day you can read a blog about it somewhere. Spiritual leaders from all kinds of denominations have their say on this new theme. Apparently, following Jesus is hot, while the word ‘discipleship’ is at least as old as the church itself. Is this a new hype or is something more fundamental going on? Almost a year ago I attended such a seminar on ‘making disciples’ in Ede. It was striking to meet almost 150 leaders from the more traditional church, while almost all of the evangelical leaders were missing. Perhaps the spiritual hunger in those churches is greater? Or is their realization that something really needs to change much stronger? From the start, it struck me that almost every participant tried to write down verbatim what was said or explained by the speakers. I did that myself. Even though everyone present had long been familiar with the word “discipleship,” there was an enormous hunger and urgency among these same people to understand how we actually make disciples. Including me! Apparently, with all the church models and innovative (foreign) programs, we have barely succeeded in producing authentic followers of Jesus. Making the church relevant and trying to be accessible to visitors apparently has little or no effect on producing growing, strong Christians. Above all, we succeed in cultivating consuming Christians, who exchange their church for another as soon as something happens that they don’t like. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but that makes the underlying problem clearer. Jesus has given us a great commission: ‘Make disciples’. His command in Matthew 28 is for us converts to learn to keep all that He Himself has said. Investing maximum in personal, spiritual growth is our mission. So making disciples is a human job. We must consciously choose this, make time for it and work on it. Making disciples takes a lot of time and certainly does not happen automatically. When you build a community or church you don’t just automatically get disciples. That’s where we go wrong, because we expect that from our sermons and services. Back to the hype. Discipleship is currently at the top of the agenda for many churches and organizations. People are talking about it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s good news and bad news. Good news because in the disciples of Jesus, God’s kingdom becomes visible and we think about a stronger and more lived testimony of the King in our country. But it may also be bad news because there is a real danger that it will remain just talk. Beautiful speeches, new books and widely read blogs without any real change of course in our churches and personal lives. I sincerely hope that the ‘discipleship hype’ continues and eventually results in a reformation. My dream is that all conversations and discussions about following Jesus will irritate and challenge us so much that we will be willing to really change course. I look forward to a renewal and revival in the church, whatever color or brand that church is, that makes each of us more like Jesus. This way the world will see and experience more of Jesus. And as we make disciples, Jesus promises that he has all power in heaven and on earth and will be with us always. Let that hype quickly grow into a reformation. I participate! We would like to contribute to the development and spread of good discipleship principles for all believers. That is why we are going to hold two free training days on this theme this spring.
- On Saturday March 12 in Gouda
- On Saturday May 21 in Ede
- You can register for these free days here
Would you like to read another blog about discipleship by Martin Koornstra? Read ‘You are also being tested’ here