A lesson in “why discipling”

 

There was a Man who provided a service. He was very knowledgeable, very experienced and very connected. He advertised, for how else would anyone know he even existed? He advertised in the places people would look for his services. And one day he received a distressed call. Someone who needed help. Someone let down by another “expert”. Someone who was paying the cost for the expert not being the expert he said he was.

This Man went to see the person in distress. And immediately saw why there was distress. The expert was indeed no expert at all. And the person in distress was right to be distressed. This Man listened to a tale of woe he had heard many times. He advised as he had advised many times. He took photographs as he had many times. But this Man could not make the past different. He could only make the future different. And the person in distress was no longer distressed – he was now angry – the “expert” had been proved to be no expert at all – and to put right the wrong would cost more money. The Man had also heard that anger many times.

The person in ex-distress and now ex-anger thanked the Man, and then set about researching the Man’s credentials – and found them to be good everywhere he looked. The Man indeed seemed to be the expert he claimed. So the job was agreed, and the job was done. By other Men who were indeed skilled at their different jobs. Men who had a pride in doing their different jobs to a very high standard. They were indeed good Men in the image of the Man.

The end.

 

That is a true story. The firm is a real firm. The job was a real job. And the job (done second time around) was to a very high standard.

 

It struck me that “the firm” – each person – was as good as the Man (the boss): each person had a job – each person understood their own job – each person knew the jobs of others and how all the different jobs fitted together. And I learned that each was valued by the boss, and each was necessary to the boss (and each other). Each had the skills, experience, tools and right attitude to do “the job” properly. And the pride in doing a good job was not for my benefit , not for their boss – it just “was” in each.

And the boss was absent a lot of the time. And there were no calls to reassure or enquire. He simply popped in on two occasions over one week. On both occasions his visit was not to impress me, it was to talk to his crew. The entire job was done to the very high standard, to the agreed price (including some details not included in the quote (and not charged either), and to the agreed schedule. All was as promised. And those details along the way … each was agreed as it happened. And that left a great impression.

Each of the crew was entrusted with the authority to change/adapt/amend his own bit without reference to the boss. I think it was because each had the same pride in their bit, and – as importantly – of the whole. Each knew they were part of the whole – and each worked their bit to achieve the whole. That was how they did things – it was that simple for each of them.

 

And – without any of us talking about God or no-God, church or no-church … I was given a fantastic living and real lesson in why disciples and “why discipling”.

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We are already connected

Fellowship groups … bible study groups … house groups … Sunday school … groups with one thing at their core: a desire to grow.  To grow … to change … and to journey with others.  Others who will be as vulnerable and as strong as each.  Others who will allow.  Others who will hear.  Others who want to journey.

I have such a group.

I have found myself verbalising with clarity thoughts that were only a confusion before.  I have listened to words I have never heard in church or church groups.  But more than that – I know that when I speak I am being heard by more than just those I see.  For they are hearing their inner voices as they hear my words.  “Inner voices” are part of the conversation.   And as I hear my own inner voice – so their inner voices will resonate with mine – just as mine will with theirs when they speak.

If you have never experienced it, you need a group that has.  Once experienced, it is hard to live without.  Once experienced something changes for ever.

And THAT is why these “groups” (at least for me).  That, for me, is the difference between socialising, fellowship, and discipling.  Discipling (for me) is when “ego isn’t” because “inner voices are”.   A connection of God … love … inner voice … GSHJ … whatever your name and relationship for your inner voice … it is real.

Our group lives in different continents. Physically we have never met.  But my – your – “inner voice” is not bound by geography.  Spiritual connection is not geographic.  We use Skype, a screen, a camera, a microphone, and a headset or speakers (group skype works on computers or laptops – smart phones and tablets, no)

Why this post?

I keep meeting those who struggle, as I do, with “organised religion”.  Those who seek to hear the inner voices of others.  Who seek to connect.  For in that place is power. That place is the power of love.  That is the place of love.  That is the place of change.  And that, for me, is discipling: not change as I imagine or expect change – but change as I cannot imagine and never expect.

And I want to invite you to experience that for yourself.

And you are already connected – you are reading these words and we are reading yours.  And you already have a screen (and you may already have a microphone, camera, headset/speakers, as well as skype).  If you haven’t – skype is free – and the rest is not expensive – ask any teenager.  🙂

But “the kit” is functional.  The kit is “stuff” – the kit is not it.  Connecting with “inner voices” is it – and you already have yours!

So all you need to do is listen to your own inner voice.  Because yours is no different to mine.  Mine seeks connection.  Mine seeks “disciples”.  And yours seeks the same.  I know because I have heard inner voices in others connect with the inner voice in me (and if you don’t know what I mean – ask.  Please – please – ask).

If you have already such a group: spread the word.
If you want a group like this – say so wherever and however you feel guided (and then “listen” because your inner voice will speak).
And if you are scared of “cameras” and being on screen – so are a lot of others (you are not alone).
And if the thought of this makes you nervous – well done.

Connecting has risks – so be picky – be a disciple.  It is a walk of faith.  It is journeying in a place not of geography and not of physical spaces.  It is connecting without distance.

Or why not reblog this post and just tell others you want a group like this.  Or ask others to reblog your reblog and to also say they want this.  Why not all of us get “disorganised discipling” through just connecting with others who want the same.

And the very best bit of all … ?

We are ALL already connected (if we allow).

Feel free to chat – to disagree – to ask – to tell … that is what disciples do!  🙂 

Thank you.

Paul

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In the name of Jesus! Amen!

I love bread! I love the “artisan“ bread you get at fancy restaurants, fancy hotels, fancy bread shops, anywhere that has fancy bread. Sometimes a knob of cool salted butter, other times oil and balsamic vinegar, sometimes just “bread” … mmm!

And other times I don’t.  I am fickle. If I was an artisan baker I would not like me much – never knowing if I am an appreciative bread eater or not.  Poor artisan baker!!  And something else …

That parable about the sower of seeds and the different “ears” that did and did not “hear” … how come we “good Christians” assume the role of “sower” (or is it just me that does that)?

All the angst and sacrifice and burden – as we sow our seeds – as so much is wasted – as we are scorned – persecuted – laughed at – dismissed – ignored – only a few of our special grains falling on “fertile ground” …  All that hard work and so little reward!

We have that in black and white!

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky … “ Matthew 4:1-20 (link here)

And then – later – the dusty peeps (and we) get a (our) personal reading:

The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables … “ There you have it!  The appointed “sowers of seeds” is there in black and white for us good Christians evermore! “in the name of Jesus! Amen!”

Over my journey that has bugged me a little (and now a lot) …

Splashing seeds around is easy.  Sowing seeds is writing a blog like this.  Sowing seeds so often becomes a celeb game. Is that why we focus on “sowing seeds” … ? Writing blogs – and maybe books – and maybe selling books – and maybe even being asked to write articles – then maybe even being asked to … and maybe EVEN becoming a minor celeb (or a major one) – and it’s all good – because it’s all “in the name of Jesus! Amen!”

Whereas making disciples is tough. Making disciples is relationship. Making disciples is a team game.  Making disciples … ?

That happens out of sight. That happens in small groups, silent places, face to face, skin to skin. That happens slowly silently over time and maybe never in my lifetime or yours.  The “payback” is missing: there are never adoring crowds, never any obvious hierarchy, never one leader who will and grateful pupils who do.  Maybe for Jesus (who just happens to be God – which I kind of have to keep remembering!) – but for you and me?

If I disciple you – YOU disciple ME.  If I teach you – YOU teach ME.  If I grow you – YOU grow ME!  If I am a shepherd – I am also a sheep – just as you are.  We are ALL both when we allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely from within – when we connect – when we allow Him in us.

There is only one Grower of Seeds – and it is not you or me.

We are always the path, the weeds, the rocky place and the fertile ground – all of those “places” that change day by day (and moment by moment) in each of us.  Just as I love artisan bread always (unless) – so too we receive His seed always (unless)!

And unless we “get that” – we take this “command”:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

And make it this command:

“Teach them to obey!”

Which is why I think we still prefer the payback of “likes”, of “followers”, of a book, of an interview, of our photo here and there in technicolour (or maybe a moody black and white pic) … our face for all to see doing Kingdom Work, of being the shepherd (never the sheep).  Which is why I think that sowing seeds is a cop-out a lot of the time.  Because too often we assume we are “the seed” – and you are not.  And then wrap ourselves in sackcloth and ashes at all the rejection “in the name of Jesus! Amen!”

Maybe that is why we make Sunday church so important – less rejection … or group licking of wounds of rejection … or proving we aren’t rejected at all  (maybe) 

I think we each have to become less “sowers of seeds” and more “receivers of pebbles” in still quiet places – in still quiet pools.  The still places where we each hear Him – The Grower of Seeds – in those still quiet places of discipling where the Grower of Seeds does HIS Kingdom Work in us.

That – for me – is discipling. That – for me – is THE team game.  The team where you and I are never – ever! – THE leader … THE sower … THE Shepherd … THE Grower … THE anything – other than … the very best disciple ever.  Because Jesus showed us HOW to be that as well.

It’s all there in black and white waiting for each of us to find.   But we will never find it just by reading and then rushing off to do all that fine “Kingdom Stuff” (of which our good Christian diaries always overflow).  That is NOT the place where we hear Him.  That is just us running around doing more and more “teach them to obey!”

Is it just me – am I missing something?   Is there a different bible I should be reading?  Because I see so many sowers who believe they are growers and I wonder –

Why is that?