As a Senior Leadership Team we’ve been huddling (leadership development / coaching circle) around Alan Hirsch’s book, ‘The Forgotten Ways‘. The book was originally written in 2006, it was a fantastic book back then, but Hirsch has re-written it with lots of new material. The first half of the book is basically an observational study of gospel movements around the world that have grown and made a significant impact in the world around them. He then identifies 6 themes or threads that they all had in common – DNA strands, his analysis of which makes up the second part of the book. Having reviewed theme 1 – ‘Jesus is Lord’ in my previous blog, we now look at the second theme.
Discipleship is one of those things we talk a lot about as a church, and within the KX movement of churches that we belong. It’s THE question church leaders should be wrestling with. I recently had the privilege of going to the Liverpool Porto game with Phil Vogel. Phil, in his 80’s, is an old friend of Frontline Church who supported Dave and Nic through the early years. The game was pretty boring (0-0 draw), but the conversation was exciting… church, culture, leadership, the impact of Mo Salah on the pace of the game, and of course Phil’s favourite topic – discipleship. “It’s the biggest challenge of The Church, John” Phil kept reminding me. I completely agree. It’s why over Easter I spent a week teaching at Spring Harvest Harrogate – the main reason I agreed to be involved was probably because of the theme – “Determined Discipleship”.
In his book The Forgotten Ways, Alan Hirsch identifies Disciple-making culture as one of 6 core strands in Jesus, Gospel Movements (mDNA). He talks about ideas familiar to us – the importance of the journey of becoming like Jesus, imitation as more powerful than information, the need to share lives together as a context for spiritual formation and accountability, the Great Commission as less about aiming for ‘confession of faith’ and ‘the sinners prayer’, and more about the process of making disciples.
As we’ve reflected on this core mDNA strand as a leadership team, it seems to me that we have lots of good stuff in place in Frontline to help us create a culture of discipleship. Missional Communities are at the heart of this. We have a long culture of small group accountability in its various forms. But for Frontline, I believe the biggest obstacle in really developing a discipleship culture is how we see and place ourselves in the discipleship equation. I believe we need to move from seeing ourselves as the ‘object of discipleship’ (eg please will someone disciple me?) ‘my discipleship’, to the method and vehicle for discipleship (eg let me get alongside you and support you) ‘disciple-makers’. Sorry to put it that bluntly, but it’s a blog, and apparently you should aim for 400 words!
So let me throw out some challenges… Who are you discipling / investing in? What are the barriers / obstacles to you discipling others? And what might the Holy Spirit say about these barriers? What might a healthy culture of disciple-making look like for Frontline Church, and what might the impact of that be?