My friend Steve gave me Jesus Driven Ministry by Ajith Fernando for my ordination last month, and I’ve been reading it in bits and pieces. Today I was looking at the chapter on “Launching Disciples into Ministry” as I’m working on understanding what Jesus was trying to say to us when He commanded us to “make disciples”.
Fernando talks for a couple of chapters about spending unscheduled daily time with the people you are leading, getting to know them, understanding them and helping them understand you. This is, of course, the model that Jesus used with His followers.
I want to close this discussion by saying that the type of commitment to people advocated in the last two chapters is not an outmoded and impractical relic of the past that is incompatible with today’s fast paced life. The ideal organizational culture for an institution in society is governed by the need to achieve a mission. And success in achieving this mission is determined by meeting certain measurable goals. Such thinking can help a church or organization to get out of a rut and to grow. But we must never forget that, at its heart, Christan organizational culture is relational and not project-driven. Loving each other by dying for each other is basic to Christian organizational life. Many in our generation have lost this concept, and the church has paid a huge price because of that loss.
And I keep reading these days that the mission of the Church is found not in anything new, but in the almost last words of Jesus on earth: go and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20) So often we have made that be about missions, and it is. But really, it is about teaching people how to be Christ followers, people who have decided that the way to live life is according to what Jesus said.
Of course, this is a pretty messy process. It involves time, patience, conversation. It involves transparency and forgiveness. It involves life together.
But being the church rather than going to church, and being Christ followers rather than any other kind of follower, is the point.
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