introduction to discipleship

John King is one of the shepherds at Stones River Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the sending church for Christie and I in our mission to the people of Geita, Tanzania.  We love our shepherds there, and are happy to call Stones River our family.  John, in particular, has been a great help and encouragement to the Harrison family (and to our team as a whole).  The CPM model of evangelism — that our team has adopted — was first introduced to us by John.  I consider him to be an expert in matters of discipleship, and that’s why I’ve asked him to put together a short series on that very subject here at aliens and strangers.  John blogs here.


Have you noticed how many people start driving the same make and model of vehicle as you, right after you purchase that “new-to-you” auto? Few just bought theirs. What has changed is your awareness. Since Brett asked me to write about discipleship I have noticed how many people are doing likewise. Consider the following quote I saw in the Jan-Feb 2011 issue of Mission Frontiers:

“Sitting in a pew watching the paid staff put on a Sunday show is all too often the American view of discipleship; this view is not biblical, and it is killing the Church.”

Likely I miss that statement if I do not agree to write this series. We see and/or hear what we want (to a large extent).

Brett wants me to write a 3-part series on discipleship:

  1. Introduction to—and/or importance of discipleship.
  2. What does it mean to be a disciple? And/or how do I become a disciple?
  3. What does it mean to make a disciple? And/or how do I make disciples?

But how do I introduce this topic? How do I convince you of its importance if you think what the quote said? Since Brett has already told you I am part of the pastoral team of his sending church, then you expect me to be angling to get people to Stones River. Or maybe you think I want more to buy-in to our programs. Or maybe we want your money.

Preparing to write this series I stumbled onto something that puzzles me. I even wrote my deepest theologian friend asking for any insights he could share (of course he will probably get back to me after I hit “Send” on this series). Oh, yes, the word “disciple” appears hundreds of times in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. It never appears in the rest of the New Testament. Zip, zilch, nit, notta!

How does that happen? How does such an important word disappear?

I do not know! Not even my wildest ideas help.




Filed under discipleship, guest posts

5 responses to “introduction to discipleship

  1. such a needed topic!!! even though the word might not show up after the gospels, the idea definitely is modelled time and again in at least Acts 🙂 and taught about in the epistles.

    • Yes, trapper, the idea appears–and is very significant–in the epistles. My theologian friend suggested it may have something to do with the Gospels and Acts being narratives. He also sounded surprised that he had not encountered this issue before. It’s not every day you get to stump a PhD!

  2. fascinating that Paul doesn’t even mention it. I don’t even know if that means anything…

  3. I think part of the difficulty is that we want to interpret “disciple” as one thing, and then interpret “discipleship” as something entirely different. We call a “disciple” a “follower of Christ”, and then we associate “discipleship” with “how to be a better Christian”.

    Discipleship is the act of being a disciple.

    Gosh, that word looks weirder and weirder the more I type it.

    Does the “Paul” issue have anything to do with Aramaic versus Greek? Maybe the languages just don’t quite have equivalent translations into English and thus he used a word that got translated as “follower” or “lover of Christ” instead of as “disciple”?

  4. Pingback: commission and discipleship | aliens and strangers

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