Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reproduce Yourself

How did you get to where you are? Chances are, you have someone to thank for it. Maybe it was a favorite teacher or someone who took you under their wing. If you are successful at anything, it is unlikely you figured it all out yourself.

Somewhere along the line, participating in countless clubs and organizations through school, I learned that to propagate the values, skills, or ideals you bring to that organization, you need to replicate those in others. And if you leave an organization, you should replace yourself if you want to leave a legacy.

That is all well and good for organizational philosophies. But shouldn't the same be true for our spirituality? You can't come to know Jesus by yourself- "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:14) When it comes to discipleship the goal shouldn't be to replicate ourselves, instead shouldn't we be trying to reproduce Jesus? "One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?" (1 Corinthians 1:12-13) and later in the same letter Paul writes, "follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (11:1)

When you read the Bible and something new jumps out at you from the page, don't you want to share it with someone? Or if you read an inspiring story or practical how-to on a blog, don't you want to share it? (That's what is behind the increasingly popular social media site Pintrest) Or maybe a better question would apply the Golden Rule- wouldn't you want someone to share those things with you?

This is not a new idea. I quote Paul above, but the principle goes all the way back to the time of the Israelites wandering the desert, building monuments to God to remind them to share their stories with their children and their children's children. More importantly, this instruction comes straight from Jesus' own mouth: "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, (most of us know the Great Commission up to this point, but it continues) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Churches get in the bad habit of focusing only on the first part, emphasising growth in numbers, to the neglect of the second part. When that culture dominates a church's membership, the result is a congregation full of immature Christians, many of whom will eventually leave much like a seed planted on rocky ground that may germinate, but will die for lack of deep roots. (Mark 4:5-6)

To get around this some churches have programs, others have anointed teachers, still others organize themselves into small/family/prayer/discipleship groups. In each of these, the responsibility of passing along spiritual knowledge is delegated to one or a select few individuals. Yet Jesus' command above is for us all. It is each of our responsibilities to raise up and teach others to be like Jesus.

Does that sound intimidating? You are responsible for teaching someone else to be Christ-like. Where do you begin? What do you do? How do you do this? This may be a foreign idea, a 'hard teaching', a new concept to many of you. The truth is, a majority in the American Church are ill-equipped to take on such an important role.

So in comes Francis Chan and Mark Beuving with their book, Multiply: disciples making disciples. This isn't a book review (yet), but an introduction. Chan has partnered with David Platt to form Crazy Radical. Just kidding. To start what they call the Multiply Movement, an effort to encourage the Church to get back to discipleship as Jesus defined it, to plant seeds of the Gospel around the world, and to pass on those teachings and experiences to others to go and do the same.

If the idea of leading another to Christ, or to raise someone up to be Christ-like, is intimidating or if you don't know where to start. I encourage you to pick up this book, check out their online materials, watch their videos. More importantly, I encourage you to do this with someone else.

This is a theme you're going to see more and more on this blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. Later this week I'm going to talk more about evangelism and later write my own book review (I have a few chapters left!). In the meantime, I pray you take these words from Paul to heart:

It was [Jesus] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16, emphasis added)

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