Friday, April 2, 2010

Liz on discipleship, also other questions

I was so impressed with Liz's response to last week's post and the way it made me think that I decided it needed to be posted a bit more prominently for those who may not read comments.

"I think the idea of making disciples is a bit terrifying. I suspect that it is supposed to be like the way I understand draft horses are trained: you take an inexperienced horse, hitch him up alongside a mature, trained one, and then keep them working/moving together until the new one gets the hang of things. If you make disciples that way, you're looking at dedicating yourself to running parallel to somebody else for a long time. You might not even really like the person, but who are you to judge, if you're open to helping whoever needs it, whoever God brings you? Which of course you should be, if you trust him and really want to do his will and work. And think about the people who have put up with you in the past. Think about the people Jesus put up with, even among his closest friends, the twelve. If find it exhausting just to think about it, let alone live it.

"If you just go someplace for a week and harass people you don't know and will never see again, you can come back and live your life however you please and feel good about yourself for it."

As a follow-up question to everyone: What is the difference between discipleship and mentorship? 

If discipleship is partnering up with whoever gets hitched to your harness, is mentorship about seeking out someone of a different age but a like mind?  Is there a place for that in the church, as well?  Is it mandated or just a good idea?  And how do we go about getting hitched into someone else's more experienced harness and get someone less experienced hitched into our slightly more experienced harness?  Any examples, ideas, or suggestions?  How exactly does love go and make disciples?


  1. I'm pretty sure making disciples should involve food. There's a lot of eating in the gospels. (I'm serious about this.)

  2. It's true. And a lot of sharing of meals and time. (Possibly because for the working poor of the day [mostly everyone] meal time was the only free time they had to pass around letters and discuss their application?) They moved from house to house, right? And sharing food with guests was also a very cultural thing, right?

    What do we have in our culture that's similar? Do you think discipleship in our day could be as simple as making time for meals with other believers a high priority? Or would that just be a start? Where to from there?

  3. In undergrad I actually developed a theory that people are significantly more likely to make lasting relationships if they eat together frequently. This was based on my observation of eating at the cafeteria as kind of the lowest common denominator regular shared activity. And more particularly, I observed that the honors class the year after mine (namely, Paul's) got moved to the 11:00AM hour instead of noon, and as a result most of them went straight to lunch together, every day. We still keep in more or less close touch with a lot of those folks. I've also gotten closer to people I've eaten meals with regularly in my graduate programs and in work situations. My church offers a free meal to the community on Wednesday nights, and we get TONS of needy people coming in that would never darken the door on a Sunday morning (although now they're getting much more comfortable, and seeing them on Sunday morning or holidays is getting more likely).

    It has something to do with recognizing that hey, the other person is human and has to eat, too (once you get over being paranoid about your manners or whatever). Conversation over meals is more relaxed; you can always fall back on eating or talking about the food to cover awkward silences. And if someone is busy satisfying a need, they're not very threatening (kind of like how universal open-handed weapon-less greetings seem to be).

    It can certainly be challenging to find/make time to share meals, especially when you're just getting into the habit. But some families just do it second nature (the Bossards' house was always like this when I was a kid, for instance). Even inviting someone new at church to meet you for coffee later that week is a big step in the right direction, though.