Currently, I’m offering a series of blog posts on the issue the Church is facing in discipleship. Looking at what the problem is and how we can address it. You can find the previous posts by following these links:
Today, we’ll be looking at another reason why we aren’t making disciples: imitation. The problem we face in the Church is that we assume that we can replicate ourselves through information transfer alone. Perhaps this is the result of the Enlightenment and the growth of Academia, but reproducing disciples cannot happen by information alone. However, it takes imitation as well.
Of course, I’m not saying that we lose the teaching component and forget passing on information. Instead, I’m offering that we need to balance information with imitation. And, frankly, this is how a lot of trades already operate in the world. You wouldn’t want a doctor operating on you if they’ve only studied surgery in a classroom. You would want someone who has practiced under the guidance and supervision of a seasoned and experienced surgeon. Similarly, you can’t become a teacher unless you go through student teaching under the guidance of a cooperative teacher. You can’t become a licensed plumber unless you’ve spent time as an apprentice to someone who is already licensed.
It should be the same in the Church. Discipleship doesn’t happen simply because you’ve passed on information through Bible studies, membership classes, and sermons. There needs to be a process of imitation whereby someone who is a little farther ahead on their spiritual journey walks alongside someone who is a little farther back. This is why Paul says “imitate me as I imitate Christ”.
It’s important to recognize that this isn’t a call to live a perfect life. Quite the contrary, you need to show how an imperfect and fallen person is redeemed ever day through the power of Jesus Christ. You need to be a living example. Follow me as I follow Christ – watch what I do as I try to figure out how to align my life with Christ. And it’s through that process of imitation that discipleship really takes place. It’s in imitation that we can see what we need to be.
Who are you imitating in your life as a disciple?
Who are you allowing to imitate you as you follow after Christ?