Making Disciples Incarnationally
This is Post #7 of the Sacred Roads: Tools for the Tour Guides blog series. Sacred Roads is a new curriculum published by Threads that helps participants explore and experiment with Biblical and historical expressions of discipleship. The Sacred Roads small group curriculum and leader kits are available at threadsmedia.com.
This blog series provides tips and ideas for discipleship pastors and small group leaders who are charged with facilitating the discipleship process for others.
The incarnational path of discipleship is physical, active, and tangible. It equates worship with activity. Like personal discipleship, it gained great popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it focused on the outward instead of the inward. Within the framework of the incarnational model, people grew in their knowledge and relationship with Christ by seeking to become his hands and feet through service and outreach to others.
Dag Hammarskjold said, “The road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.” From William Wilberforce to Mother Teresa to the emerging monastics and missionary movements of the 21st century, this chapter will explore the historical background of the incarnational approach to discipleship. An approach that embraces and engages in a form of service that is not only the result of our spiritual growth, but the actual vehicle through which that growth occurs. This article provides some ideas for incorporating incarnational methods of discipleship in the environments you lead.
To lead others down incarnational roads of discipleship, many of us need some additional education. Not the kind you receive within the climate-controlled comfort and safety of a classroom. But the kind you get while hanging out with the kind of people Jesus hung out with. We need to break out of our soft pastel painted walls of the church and expose ourselves to the issues of justice and compassion in the world. We need to be courageous enough to step into the world of learning about human trafficking, poverty, homelessness, and unfair labor. In short, we need to "get uncomfortable" as Todd Phillips encourages us in his curriculum of the same name.
Go to the Streets
Take your small group or Sunday School class or worship time to the streets one week. Send folks out to do a prayer walk, to listen to real people talk about their honest views of the church, to pick up trash. Take one night of small group and do a service project in your community. Take cookies to your neighbors. Offer a free car wash.
Go on Mission
Take your group on a mission trip. Build a mud hut in Ethiopia or an orphanage in Uganda. Teach skills and trades to AIDS victims in Africa. Build schools and dig wells in Ecuador. Show the love and grace of Jesus to girls trapped by the sex industry in Thailand. You get a quadruple whammy with this one-- participants will grow relationally, experientially, personally, and incarnationally while on mission. Identify a big project and ask people to give a week's worth of vacation and income to make a difference overseas. Consider turning every small group into a mini-mission trip by asking each group to do a service project in their neighborhood.
Host a Week of Justice
This idea was championed at National Community Church by John Hasler. Designate one week a year as "Week of Justice" and host events that raise awareness and give action to issues of injustice around the world. Bring in speakers, be creative, be open to dialogue, show films, create controversy. We do it during our annual missions series and we've covered a wide range of topics, including sex trafficking, urban poverty, homelessness, environmental concerns, sweat-shop and other unfair labor practices, orphans and widows, international debt, etc.
Meet With the Mayor
Schedule a meeting with your mayor or city council and ask questions: 1) What are the greatest needs in the city? 2) What can we do to make this city a better place? and 3) How can we pray for you? Until we start making our communities a better place, no one will care about what we have to say. Large crowds followed Jesus because his hand was extended to heal. Let's extend our hands in order to capture their ears.
What are some other ways we can guide people down incarnational paths of discipleship?