Friday, April 17, 2009

Products, Process, and the Art of Discipleship

My wonderful husband Ryan and I often find ourselves in the middle on inane conversations. We don't fight. Ever. But we do experience great joy in debating significant things such as the pronunciations and proper uses of words. Yesterday, we landed in the age-old conversation, Art: Product or Process? (If you find yourself in similar quandaries, check out Somehow, we both stepped into some strange alternate universe where Ryan embraced product while I embraced process. Like Dr. Frankenstein switched our brains or something. We are still chewing on both the topic itself and the phenomenon of our role-reversal, and we've got a 2.5 hour road trip tonight to keep masticating.

In the meantime, it's got me thinking about discipleship. Is discipleship about a product or a process? When I think of discipleship products, I think in terms of a curriculum to study, a set of classes to complete, a base of knowledge to impart, or a set of character values we hope to develop. It could be the end result of the person (fully devoted follower of Christ) or the resources we create to produce that kind of person. When I think about discipleship process, I think about relationships and journey. Two steps forward and one step back. Conversations, experiences, moments that shape us but we don't see it at the time. I think it's both.

I get concerned, however, when we jump too soon to product without focusing on process. I'm reminded of a google search that led someone to my blog a few years ago: "how to shorten the discipleship process." (really?) The word "process" is in there, but what the person is really concerned about is the product. How do I find the quickest means to the end? As though we could put the raw materials of humanity into a mechanized system and spit out perfectly formed disciples on the other end. Discipleship is about a completed workout; not a completed worksheet. It's about a journey, not a destination. It's about something we are always becoming present tense, not something we became past tense. It's about being in the process, not having arrived at the product.

And that's where we come to the frayed ends of my thoughts on this topic. More later, I'm sure.


At 2:34 PM, Blogger paint_pants said...

I laughed out loud at my memories of you and that particular painter whose work you posted as your pic for this. I mean, very appropriate... but no less humorous to me :)
I love it when art and spirituality fit together so nicely. :)

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Heather Z said...

Yes, Beeks. I laughed out loud and thought of you when I posted it. The choice of Lavender Mist was very intentional.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Jana said...

I walked into the middle of one of those Zempel non-fights and it was one of the most entertaining things I witnessed all week!


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