August 21, 2012
And what holds us back from forming misisonal disciples
In our newest digital magazine, Alan Danielson writes an important note about discipleship: "In Christ's mind, discipleship is successful when followers become missionaries—when they combine discipleship with mission." I've been doing a lot of thinking about discipleship this week and the role small groups play in spiritual formation. I fear that too often we fail to empower group members to live out their mission—to discover who God has made them to be and take steps to live out of that identity, to join in God's story of redemption. Danielson explains several reasons we struggle with this in the excerpt below:
We think talking about mission is enough. This is a good place to start, but it's only the start. Just because we hear it doesn't mean it has fully impacted us.
We're guilty of not living out mission ourselves. As leaders, we often talk a good game, but don't even know our neighbors. We feel guilty telling others to live missional lives when we don’t do it ourselves.
Our discipleship systems don't promote mission. Our systems promote attendance, curriculum, discussion, and food. But they don't promote mission. People base their expectations on what we promote.
We measure the wrong things. We measure attendance, number of groups, and the percentage of our weekend attenders who are in groups, but those aren't the right things to measure. Truthfully, we often don't measure mission because it's hard to measure. It's not as clear cut as a spreadsheet of numbers.
We fail to understand why small groups exist. Too often we leaders think small groups exist to connect people within the church and close the back door. However, those are what I call the "happy side effects" of small groups. Think about it: the church exists for the world, not for itself. So, as the purest form of the church, small groups exist for the world, not for the members of the church.
The good news is that there is a way to overcome these obstacles. There is a way for our small groups to develop disciples who are on mission. To gain tips on overcoming these obstacles (and to learn about other obstacles we face), read Danielson's article in our digital magazine, The Meaning of Missional.
posted by Amy Jackson on August 21, 2012 8:00 AM