There is much discussion these days of the tension between mission and discipleship. Where do you fall? Which way do you feel the tension pulling you?
This is a question that started burning in my heart about 5 or 6 years ago. At that time I was serving at a church as their worship leader, helping lead through a discipleship overhaul. I was explaining the process to a ministry friend of mine and he asked, “Don’t you find that discipleship weakens a churches outreach?” I thought, “huh?” I hadn’t really struggled with that in my ministry. Maybe it was because I wasn’t really mature enough to see the struggle. Now this issue is something I think about every week. As one of the leading voices of discipleship and outreach in my current context, I have to live in the tension between discipleship and mission. But I don’t see it as the same tension anymore. I don’t see it as a tension between choosing between one or the other. I see it as the tension between whether one is feeding into the other properly.
When I look at the life and ministry of Jesus I see someone who was paramountly focused on meeting the spiritual needs of those who where hurting and broken. Masses would come from miles to touch his coat, get a glimpse of his face or ask for physical healing. He lived for the downcast and broken. The tension comes when we see Jesus spending time alone with the believers…the Twelve. We see this and we say, “See, Jesus was about filling up the people of God!” I think where we miss the mark here is when we choose one over the other instead of seeing one FOR the other. Jesus invested in the Twelve so that they could live FOR ones far from Him. Is our discipleship moving people out into the mission. And does our outreach lead others to want to join in the discipleship so they can join the mission? There is a symbiotic relationship here. These parts must be mutually benefiting one another. We grow for the mission and the mission must lead people to grow.
Just my ongoing conversation…please join in. I want to continue to grow through the discussion.
2 responses to “Feel the Tension?”
I see discipleship being FOR the spiritual growth of the believer and also prepares the believer to reach the unchurched as well. So, I see discipleship and mission as one in the same. That is why Christ said to, “go and make disciples.” Go and reach people with the gospel who will in turn reach people with the gospel. I totally agree with your statement, “We grow for the mission and the mission must lead people to grow” if you’re saying that growth through discipleship leads people to be on mission to reach others for Christ and the process starts all over again.
– Greg from http://www.FaithFirstFitness.com
Thanks for the insights. I love that you brought out that this is a struggle that we have created ourselves within the church. Jesus was always working within the two and they were hand in hand. Great thoughts bro. Hope you are well.