discipleship and church and many questions!
January 22, 2008
It’s quite a hectic time at the moment. Will be preaching twice on Sunday (all my respect to those of you who have to do this every week), and since we are busy with a series where similar sermons are preached in both our services, I have to finish my one sermon by tomorrow to send it to the other guy that will be preaching. What’s worse is that he has been a pastor for 40 years or something, and I just started out, so it’s kind of a stressful idea!!!
What’s more I’ll be having a meeting tomorrow about this years Engineering Ethics, a course at the university where I’m part of the team teaching and facilitating discussions. So the lecturer asked if I’d bring along my ideas for possible work we could add/change to/in the curriculum, especially with regards to Ecological Ethics, which we would like to give higher priority this year. I’m thinking about the first chapter of Fritjof Capra’s The Web of Life, but it contains a lot of philosophy which I’m not sure what the Engineering students will make of. So, if you have any ideas which might help, and you can let me know within the next 12 hours, I’ll appreciate it. I’m looking for something scholarly, something radical, something ecological, and something the lay reader can understand (The average engineer isn’t that interested in philosophy or ethics).
OK, a question. What’s the relationship between discipleship and the church? I’ll be preaching on discipleship and biblical formation on Sunday (again, I have about 18 hours to finish my draft on this sermon), and as I was working this afternoon, some questions arised.
Discipleship is not coming to church, but it’s going into the world. What do we do when we go into the world? Where is the world? Is the church part of the world? Sometimes I wonder why even keep the church? Well, it seems like the task of the church would be to prepare people for discipleship; I get this mainly from Matt 28 (read the thoughts of David Bosch in Transforming Mission on this), go and teach what you have learned from Jesus; Jesus made disciples, now go and make some more, to make more, to make more? No, to do what Matthew wrote in his account of Jesus from chap 1-28, to take part in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, to heal, bring hope, feed to poor, look after the vulnerable etc etc. Why have another sermon on this? What do I say when I have another sermon on this? Can the church actually “train” people in discipleship? Is biblical formation and discipleship the same thing? Is discipleship and making disciples the same thing? Maybe biblical formation and disciples, or making disciples is supposed to be the same thing, but do we use this terminology for the same thing in our churches?
I’m reading Emerging Churches by Gibbs/Bolger, especially chapters 3 and 4, as part of my preparation. Is this the answer? Should we close down church and start alternative communities? What about the millions in traditional congregations who will never fit into new models, are they “lost for discipleship”? Is discipleship possible in a traditional Reformed congregation? What about in a hip mega-church? Bring back the question, in what way is discipleship (or making disciples ) and church linked at all?
Well OK, have to go now, I’m having dinner with some nice people from the congregation. A technical error (I’m sure the database we are using has some programming error) caused me to phone the wrong person to sympathise with a husbands death. As Murphy would have it, this person had a brother with the same name as the dead husband, and I left a message just to say that I heard, and would call later. She got it, thought her brother died, then found out he was alive bla bla bla. You can imagine the bad experience it must have been! I felt very bad. So actually I just wanted to go and say sorry, but, in spite of my horrible mistake, the nice people are giving me some food (which is great if you are in bachelorhood!)