Go and Make Disciples
By Sam Tunnell
January 15, 2018
Over the last few weeks, Red Tree has been in a vision series called “Old Roots” where we discuss the vision and rhythms of Red Tree Church. In this discussion we’ve talked a lot about discipleship and how we desire to see it work out in our church family. To that end I thought it would be good to write out a sort of philosophy of discipleship. What follows is simplified, but it gets the idea across well enough. According to Jesus in Mathew 28 ALL believers are called to make disciples. We are ALL called to discipleship, so it would probably be best to get on the same page about how we actually do that.
We see three biblical models of discipleship fleshed out in scripture. We desire to function out of all three models at Red Tree
1 – Pauline Discipleship – like a mentorship
We see a simple model of discipleship where one who is more mature in Christ brings another ‘under their wing’ and calls them to ‘follow me as I follow Christ’. This is best done one on one or in very small groups. This will be very practical and focused on deep scripture study, accountability, and practical advice for christian living. Titus shows this being modeled by older xians discipling younger xians, but 1 Timothy reminds us that this kind of discipleship is not based on age, but rather spiritual maturity and Christ-like example.
2 – Teacher Student Discipleship – like a classroom
This is simple and obvious, but also important. A person with training or knowledge in a specific area imparts that knowledge to a group of students. This was seen in the jewish talmudim system of teachers and students. This form of discipleship is best done in a ‘classroom’ setting covering specific topics for a specific amount of time.
3 – Peer Discipleship – like a family
This form of discipleship is often overlooked in evangelical christianity. It is best modeled by the Apostles following Christ. A group of peers joined together and sought the way of Christ “shoulder to shoulder”. The focus here is on shared life that is focused on the person and work of Jesus. This will best happen in community groups where peers willingly share the fullness of their hearts in gospel transparency and then give open invitation to encourage each other to see their lives in the context of the gospel.
At Red Tree, our elders are praying and seeking to see all of these practices work out in our church. We hope that all of you have someone older in the faith who is investing in you. We are offering classes where you can grow in specific areas of gospel fluency. We also desire that all of us would participate in a gospel community and find gospel transparency and life.
Discipleship is hard. It cost a lot in terms of time, commitment, vulnerability, humility, and the hard work of life change. The benefit, however, far out weighs the cost. May we be a people who count and gladly pay the cost of discipleship that we may pursue Christ wholly together.