Scot McKnight, renowned New Testament scholar and professor of religious studies at Northpark University, wrote an article entitled “Full Disciple” in the February-March 2011 edition of Neue Magazine exploring the discipleship ministry of local congregations. McKnight asks his readers, “What kind of disciple is your church producing (p.56)?,” before suggesting that churches would benefit from aligning their vision with that of Jesus:
For Jesus a disciple is someone marked by kingdom holiness — a life that has been captured by Jesus and swallowed up into God’s Kingdom work in this world and beyond (p.57).
There are seven themes that set the tone and tenor for how Jesus understood discipleship, and these seven themes ought to be the top items we are concerned with in our discipleship programs (p.57):
- Kingdom Understanding: A disciple is someone caught up in Jesus’ Kingdom.
- Kingdom Dreaming: A disciple is someone who is lost in the Kingdom dream of Jesus.
- Love: A disciple is someone who loves God and loves others with everything they’ve got.
- Justice: A disciple is someone who is radically committed to doing what Jesus teaches and working toward conditions that reflect those teachings.
- Peace: A disciple is someone who is at peace and works toward peace.
- Wisdom: A disciple is someone who is wise and seeks wisdom.
- Church: A disciple is someone who lives out his or her calling in the context of a local church (p.57-8).
“Jesus’ call to discipleship is not a call to go it alone with Jesus. It is a call to go it together under Jesus. Discipleship according to Jesus takes place in the context of fellow followers of Jesus” (p.58).
- How would you answer McKnight’s opening question for your congregation? (What kind of disciple is your church producing?)
- How well does your congregation’s current discipleship ministry reflect each of the seven themes Jesus emphasized?
- What is one growing edge for your congregation’s discipleship ministry? How is this area being developed?