By Pastor Micah Gilmore
Our staff have been talking and praying through what discipleship looks like here at Evergreen SGV. I’ve been mulling over what discipleship looks like in the area of local outreach and asking where the relationship is between outreach and discipleship. The answer is actually in the last sentence. The relationship between outreach and discipleship is...well...relationship. The food pantry, the backpacks, the Thanksgiving celebration, recently our sports camp, sure each of those ministries are providing something tangible to our community, but that’s only if we’re looking at these ministries with the short-term in mind.
What these ministries are allowing for is the building of relationships, which is the context of discipleship. Discipleship happens in relationships. Now sure, you could say, “Well I’m being discipled by ‘Mr. Famous Pastor’ because I listen to his podcast every day/week.” I’d say that’s more being taught, which is a part of discipleship, but not discipleship in full. When we look at Jesus’ life, he spent time not just teaching his disciples, but time living with his disciples. They did stuff together. Discipleship isn’t just head to head learning, it’s life to life learning. What if discipleship looked like less of you sitting down going through a book, and more like allowing someone to spend time with you and your family every week? To observe you walking with Jesus as a young adult, a husband, a wife, a mom, a dad, and grandparent, etc. Does that sound a little scary? Maybe a little messy? Even the thought of having someone in your home. I’ve got a 4 ½ year old and a 5 month old, and the interior of our home looks immaculate. Do you believe me? Didn’t think so. Legos, train tracks, cars, and books are all having a party around an octopod and a baby play mat on our floor, and that’s just one of our rooms. What kind of impact, though, do you think it made on the disciples when Jesus was on his hands and knees washing their feet in John 13, and then tells them that what they just experienced they need to go and do the same?
What kind of impact do you think it had when the disciples told children that Jesus didn’t have time for them, but Jesus corrected them and let the children come to him in Matthew 19? Or when they experienced Jesus weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus in John 11, or asking for prayer because of how sorrowful and troubled he was the night he would be betrayed in Matthew 26? You can’t get that kind of discipleship from studying a book together for an hour.
I love what Greg Ogden wrote in his book, Transforming Discipleship, “In a discipling relationship, life circumstances become the setting for the exegetical work of God’s Word.” How cool is that? Let’s be a community that makes disciples by inviting them into our lives as we follow Jesus. It may be messy, but can't get anymore authentic.