We Don’t Blog

3 09 2008

Reality check. We don’t actually write blogs. Will we? Maybe. Can we? I think so. Jamie and I will make a concerted effort to actually interact with other blogs and write our own. How this will go I cannot say but we’re going to try again.

I just graduated from school and Jamie just graduated from his church and we’ve both started a business together so we’ve been pretty busy. This is not an excuse, just reality. So here we go…

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Toward Discipleship

3 06 2008

There are some things I’m not very good at.  One is being brief, and I’m not sure this will be, but one of Luke’s questions in the previous blog prompted this particular posting.  The question?  “What is discipleship?”

This last Sunday I sat through an “all-church” meeting regarding our community’s reaction to an elder team decision.  The decision?  To remove our Senior Pastor in order to pursue a leader with different giftings — an uncomfortable decision for a number of reasons.  They presented their decision of change in a professional, concise, well-thought-out manner.  They were humble and well-spoken.  But all of it had to do with the structure of the church, not the heart or mission.  No mention of the centrality of Jesus and his commission of His Church.  In the midst of the meeting, an astute young man asked the question, “Can you define for me your understanding of what discipleship is?  What does it mean to make disciples?”  They hemmed and hawed and went around in circles with a number of Christianspeak and cliches.  Their lack of understanding — of even having considered the question — had been exposed.

In the conversation of my mind I was more than a little frustrated.  These were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of our community and all of the wisdom they could come up with in response to discipleship were some platitudes and the assumption that “all of us already know this.”

“That’s not discipleship?” I thought.  At first I was overtaken by my own arrogance.  My next thought was, “I could fix this if given the chance.”  I heard the Lord prompt this question to me:  “You can fix it, can you?  Then define it for me.” Crap.  Exposed again.  But I do have some thoughts.  So I add them to the mix (not in any particular order):

1. It is a movement toward something.  Obvious, right?  I’m not so sure.  Movement and movement toward something are not the same thing.  My five-year-old son rides his bike around the same circle for hours.  Eventually he ends up in the same place he started and does it all over again.  Sometimes he goes faster and sometimes he goes slower, but always around the same circle.  Does this sound familiar when you think about being in church?

2. It seems to me that it encompasses the God-created metaphor of parenting.  You start with an infant, help them to grow into a child, move them to adulthood and release them to be married and have their own kids.  Doesn’t discipleship have that same goal in mind?  To move someone toward maturity, one of the signs being that they are now able to move someone toward maturity.  I think the metaphor is a good one.  As a youth pastor (soon to be former), I know that there are students that I use to watch my kids for a time, but I wouldn’t call them ready to be a parent.  However, babysitting is a good step in that direction.  Maybe we should think of discipleship that we think of raising children.

3. Question:  how do we know when someone has reached maturity?  Not going to make a list.  Paul and Jesus talk about that a lot.

4. Discipleship is Jesus-centered.  I think this is one of the things we assume, but often doesn’t happen in reality.  To know Jesus, right?  That has to be the thing we’re moving toward.  It makes me re-think strategies and assumptions I see and have used in the local church.

I’m going to stop so the list can be added to by others.  By the thousands and thousands that read this blog.  Either that or it will remain an electronic blip of information stored on some server somewhere that eventually gets deleted when space is needed for something else.  I love blogs.

Jamie





Upon Alumni Status

29 05 2008

After some odd 6 years or something of various educations culminating in a 4 year stent at Multnomah Bible College (now Multnomah University), I have graduated. You can only criticize your education if you’ve actually had one, of this I am aware. Yet, I find myself postured post graduation from a traditional, conservative biblical education asking myself what the result has been. Am I more equipped than when I began? Is my spiritual life deeper? Is the formal education I have sought the best avenue toward mature discipleship? More importantly, What is?

I don’t have a clear answer for these questions yet. Yes, I’m certain that growth has taken place in my four years but I also feel the need for a reawakening of a faith that in some senses laid dormant for a time. I began every semester with a vigor for learning and a hunger for Jesus but by the middle of the thing, my desire for learning and my spiritual vitality were deeply compromised. It’s hard to feel like I need to heal from a biblical education. Whatever the reason’s for this, not all which are the fault of an institution, I can at least say that an academic orientation toward equipping for the ministry has had some impact on me.

A Chinese house church leader I heard speak asked (via translator) a room full of college age believers how many had been to a bible college. Many of us raised our hands. He then said that a room full of Chinese pastors would not have had a single raised hand unless the question was about how many in the room had been in prison; in that case, just about every hand would have been in the air. The church in China grows today by 30,000 people a day. I’m sure further learning would be welcomed by many of these pastors, but do they need our kind of education? Do we need theirs? I don’t give the finger to my alma mater but I must ask what my education has not done.

Two questions I’m sorting out:

1. What is the impact of an academic orientation toward equipping?

2. What is Discipleship (It’s essence, form and function)?

I wonder what our thousands of readers would have to say about this.

I should say that I love that I have had the opportunity to think about God carefully. I value God’s intent with our minds; to know Jesus must include our intellect and thoughtful approach to His word. I am grateful for the patience of my professors that have continually poured into me. Still, I am unsure about whether I would recommend that people I know in my church and abroad attend a bible college.

The questions raised here are not localized to biblical education and they are not few. There are so many factors I haven’t yet accounted for. I’m working toward knowing what discipleship is; what it can look like. In the word’s of Paul, “I want to know Christ, and the power of His ressurection.”

I’m open to all the help I can get.





The Inagural Blog

28 05 2008

My friend Jamie and myself, Luke, have decided we would like some place to talk about things. These things will hopefully be many and varied. From thoughts about Jesus and His work in the world, to movie and book reviews, coffee discussions (that is, discussions about coffee or discussions that may take place over it), satirical musings,  personal updates and whatever else comes into our head at any point. Whether light or serious, grand discourse or small minded foolery, we’ll try to say something worth saying.