Discipleship is not an abstract idea only to be talked about, it is a process of engaging with people both inside and outside the church. Rev Marius Krueger is a Uniting Church minister with a passion for meeting people where they are, outside of traditional ideas about church.
The other day I drove past a church sign that said, “Making disciples of Jesus”. As I read it I thought, yes I like it, but what are they really saying? Who are they talking to? Are they good at making disciples? Are they inviting outsiders?
Further down the road at a different church I saw another sign that said, “Free meals every Friday”.
Looking at those signs made me reflect on the nature of discipleship. Judging by those signs, it seemed to me that at the first church, discipleship is something they tell you all about, but at the other church, discipleship is something they invite you to come in and experience. It’s that experience that helps us grow disciples of Jesus.
Discipleship is very much a buzzword in church circles. We all feel strongly about it. Jesus felt strongly about it, and we develop discipleship programs and look at ways to be more effective. I did a quick Google search on “Discipleship Course” and in 0.42 seconds it found 3.17 million results regarding this topic. It is surely something people talk and write about at length.
At our faith community in Highfields north of Toowoomba, we often talk about being real and not being perfect. As an unconventional, non-traditional church, we do not have specialised discipleship programs, but we focus on engaging with the community in the obvious ways that a lot of churches overlook. We continually ask ourselves, “Where are people in the community meeting? Where do they go for fun, relaxation and exercise? Where do they go for coffee? Who are these people and who are their friends?”
There is no way people are just going to rock up at church on a Sunday for no particular reason, so we need to go out and engage with people where they are. We grow as disciples the moment we engage with, welcome and love people outside our own communities of faith. Growing disciples is really about creating the space for people to see and experience the love of Christ in a real way that is relevant to their lives.
By practising discipleship ourselves, we will help grow disciples in other places.
More information about Highfields Faith Community, Toowoomba can be found at highfieldscommunitychurch.com.au