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Discipleship and mission: Two sides of the same coin

I was delighted to participate in the recent Queensland Synod Inspired Disciples event, taking the opportunity to explore a range of topics and perspectives on discipleship.

In each session I also found myself thinking about mission. I was wondering “What does it mean to be a missional disciple?” and “How do discipleship practices inform my sense of mission?”

The Queensland Synod’s new discipleship framework was released during the event—a simple framework that offers a basis for thinking, talking and practising different facets of discipleship. The framework reinforces this notion of discipleship and mission being inextricably entwined.

In fact, the idea that I sat with all week was of mission and discipleship being like two sides of the same coin.

“Missional” conversation has been the focus for much of the last two decades. We’ve had missional church, missional communities, missional leadership, mission-shaped ministry and plenty more. In seeking to contribute to a better world and sharing the good news of the gospel we’re trying to shape our lives, church communities and practices in ways defined by our understanding of God’s mission. And I don’t think we’re done yet.

In recent times our energy has been directed more toward the subject of discipleship. We started to realise it was time to turn fresh eyes and energy to this age-old topic and we collectively determined the need for discipleship to be one of our highest priority areas.

Sometimes when we use the term discipleship we seem to be talking about education. Discipleship can be seen as learning about our faith. Learning about scripture. Learning about Christ. And so we have discipleship classes, courses and programs.

It seems that the notion of discipleship can sometimes be seen as quite distinct from mission. Is it something we do or say, and the other something we learn?

And so I came to wondering whether it’s helpful to think of discipleship and mission as two sides of the same coin. If discipleship is a journey toward Christlikeness, then being active in mission is a critical part of that journey.

And if mission is living out our faith in word and deed, then the journey toward Christlikeness unquestionably informs that life of mission. One without the other makes no sense.

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