At some point in our spiritual walk within Christianity, we need to assess our presupposed notions of religion. Tragedy, for example, often sparks a reassessment of our assumptions in light of the emerging questions that pain and suffering bring. In other cases, we simply grow up and find new questions emerging, or we enter into a new stage of life where our needs change. There is nothing wrong with reevaluating our religious and spiritual beliefs. It is important how we do it.
The Seventh-day Adventist standard is to evaluate everything according to the Bible. So, for example, in this series of studies we are looking at the concept of discipleship in the Bible. Without examination, some may float through their religious experience assuming that being a member of the church is equivalent to being a disciple of Christ. Hopefully, by now, that assumption has been challenged in your mind.
Our concept of “church” must also be evaluated. Since everyone who becomes a disciple signs up to become a fisher of souls (Mark 1:17), a disciple is no longer merely watching or listening from the pews but becomes an actual worker (Matt. 9:37, 38). This work does not only entail making presentation slides and folding program bulletins at church, but it involves investing in people (Acts 14:21–23). We can expect fear in the beginning; mistakes are bound to happen; ignorance, impatience, discouragement, and even failure may occur. But these emphasize all the more the need for a mentoring process in which the novice may learn from the experienced (2 Tim. 2:2). Disciples make disciples who make more disciples. This is the soul-winning process, the Grow cycle, the agricultural model of evangelism. When this cycle then becomes actualized and a complete process causes addition to turn into multiplication, this is the engine that makes the church powerful (Eph. 4:11–12)! In other words, the church is God’s people laboring in love to make more of His people—mind to mind, hand to hand, and heart to heart.
This dynamic view of church is much different from the pew-sitting, members-only model, where people come in, listen to a sermon, and leave until they repeat the process the next week, leaving all the work to the “paid professionals.” Church is the platform where we are engaged in discipleship with Christ. In our day of being digital nomads, our generation must realize that connecting to Christ involves connecting to His body—the church. Identifying with the church and its history, enjoying fellowship with its members, and becoming involved in its life and ministry are all vital components of organic, authentic, and Christ-centered discipleship.