I was with a group of pastors recently and we were considering the problems among Christians and churches in our current cultural moment. There are some deep divisions.
The answer we were discussing for the challenge of church divisions was two-pronged: discipleship and the church.
I suggested to the group a working definition of discipling and the local church in the midst of the conversation.
Discipleship is seeking and following your highest value. Every human, by virtue of being made in God’s image, lives and moves toward their highest value. In other words, they are always living out their discipleship. Christian discipleship is seeking and following Jesus Christ, the highest value.
Discipling is influencing others toward one’s highest value. Every human, by virtue of being made in God’s image, intentionally or unintentionally influences others towards one’s highest values. You don’t turn on or turn off your discipling. It’s always on. You just change your highest value from time to time. Christian discipling is influencing people toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
Christian discipleship is Christward. Christian discipling is Christward.
A local church is a group of Christians collectively and personally responsible for one another’s discipleship in order to disciple their neighbors and the nations. And Christian discipleship and discipling flourishes best in a local church.