A Word from Canon Schneider in the October 29, 2017 Adventurer
It’s tragic that many people have not only been “burned” by churches in the past, but some have been severely injured. And there are often trigger words from previous experiences that set them on edge. It’s a wonder that they’re still church-going believers! But they now have scar tissue, and some of our vocabulary inflames old wounds.
Yet many of these words are necessary to maintain and use with regularity. One such word is “discipleship.” Somehow this word has been weaponized in a way that distorted it into unending “do more, try harder” legalism. Now any mention of discipleship makes these people flinch.
As we begin to enflesh the Advent’s renewed vision, we must come to grips with what I’m talking about. Our purpose statement is: “We exist to proclaim the freeing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples wherever God has placed us.” And one of our tenets is: “We will equip every member of the Advent for the work of discipleship by creating and nurturing a culture that responds to the grace we have received from Jesus Christ.”
A Christian-ese trigger word for some is now a primary focus of our life together as a church. What do we make of this?
We must own the word, and we must redeem it!
The concept of being a mathetes (Greek for “disciple”) is throughout the New Testament. And for an increasingly post-Christian West, emphasizing discipleship will become increasingly important for us to have confidence in what exactly we believe and why we believe it amidst a society of conflicting dogmas and lifestyles.
Disciples are not a separate class of Christians. There is no difference between being a believer and being a mathetes, which means learner or (better yet) apprentice – one who follows a Master around. While we await Christ’s return, discipleship now happens in relationship with other believers. With the hope we have in the gospel, we should have an uncontrollable impulse to learn more about Christ and to do so with his people.
So let us recover what has been distorted and make discipleship life giving.