Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Making Disciples- NEXT

This is Post #8 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

This blog series provides tips and ideas for discipleship pastors and small group leaders who are charged with facilitating the discipleship process for others.

So what’s next? Where do we go from here? I guess the first step is to experiment with some of these historical paths we have explored. Lean into one that naturally resonates with you. Stretch with one that makes you a little uncomfortable. Maybe create a Rule of Life that incorporates all of them into some spiritual workout goals.

But don’t stop there. Keep exploring, experimenting, and discovering what’s in store for Discipleship Next. We’ve got to re-engineer and re-imagine discipleship for our generation and make our contribution to the grand story that God is writing throughout history.

Like the preceding posts, it seems that the sacred roads of discipleship in our generation will twist and turn with the prevailing philosophies and emerging technologies of the day. Are there ways of discipling people that no one has thought of before? Are there ways of discipling people that were not technologically possible before?

We religious types tend to swing from one extreme to the other in how we view and engage technology. Some of us view technology suspiciously and label it "the devil" when we see its potential adverse effects. Others of us hail it as the new savior-- the way the world will finally for once and forever be reached by the Gospel. But technology is neither devil nor savior-- that would be the devil and Jesus, respectively. It's a tool. And if used correctly, it can be a tool that advanced Biblical discipleship.

Blog, Twitter, and Text
The printing press fueled the Reformation; technology will likewise fuel the next Reformation. If you are a pastor or leader, you can use a blog for digital discipleship. Put your sermon notes on your blog or training topics for your small group leaders. Replace the old-fashioned prayer chain with Twitter. Send quick words of encouragement and prayer thoughts via text. I wonder if Paul would have blogged Galatians, sent his letter to Corinth via email, and shot his thoughts to Philemon as a Direct Message.

My Pastor and mentor, Mark Batterson, says, "If it's worth preaching, it's worth podcasting." Capture every small group training talk on audio and video and upload it to your website. This will allow for your leaders to reference the information later and could also be a blessing to other churches that need good training. If you offer a great platform-driven curriculum, consider offering it for free on your website so people can participate in on-demand discipleship.

Lead Online Small Groups
Do you have leaders on the go? Or leaders that have recently moved overseas? Consider organizing an online small group for them to connect in. Services like Tokbox and Skype offer free video chat services that we at NCC will be using soon to provide an online experience for former NCCers living abroad. If Tokbox were available in the first century, the Council of Jerusalem might have taken place online.

Ask Good Questions
This has nothing at all to do with technology, and everything to do with the relational dimension of discipleship. It was the first pathway in discipleship history, and I believe it is still an important environment to nurture with emerging generations. The best disciple-makers will not be the ones who dispense the best information. They will be the ones who ask the best questions. I'm becoming more and more convinced that making disciples is less about leading people to right answers and more about leading people to right questions. Jesus asked over 307 questions in Scripture. Of the questions Jesus was asked, he only directly answered a couple of them. Henri Nouwen said, "We have to keep looking for the spiritual questions if we want spiritual answers."

Where do you see discipleship going? What's on the horizon? Let's be like the men of Issachar, who "understood the times and knew what Israel should do."


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