There have been a lot of great articles to read lately, and some are just calling me to make notes on them!
One by Mike Breen shows how humans can be such creatures of overreaction, “choosing polarities rather than living in tension”. It seems like not long ago that Christian leaders were saying how we were becoming too “inward”, constantly singing songs about our own personal relationship with Jesus. Apparently, the opposite is now true in some places, with a movement to have “missional communities”, where people neglect their personal development as disciples–being “obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with no idea how to be with the King”. It’s the old thing of “Be-ing” vs “Do-ing”.
We usually think of discipleship as “doing” things, but the “long obedience in the same direction” includes other things: as Mike Breen explains, discipleship is “the boot camp training for front lines, the hospital when people are wounded, and the off-duty time needed to rest and recuperate”. The key words he uses are Character and Competency; remembering, humbly, that “apart from [Jesus] we can do nothing”. If you send people out without those things, it’s a recipe for burnout.
If we look at it objectively, we see churches with discipling cultures (that focus mainly on the transformation of individual self) and churches with missional cultures (which focus on the transformation of the world/people around us) and we often see tensions between these two camps.
One has a clue, but no cause. The other has a cause, but no clue. High mission/low discipleship church cultures have issues with Biblical literacy, theological reflection and deficiencies in character and Creed that, in the end, sabotage the very mission they’re about.
…High discipleship/low mission church cultures have a strength in the previous issues, but lack the adventurous spirit/heart of compassion and Kingdom compulsion that so stirred the Father into action that he sent his only Son to a world he so loved.”
Obviously, his argument is that BOTH are important, and goes on to explore more about discipleship… which does not mean addition, but multiplication. In other words, you make disciples who make disciples. And it’s obvious to me, that you do this with small groups.
I’m so thankful that, not only does our church have a strong missions emphasis, but they are very good at small groups!