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  • Writer's pictureJoel Riehle

3 Things Discipleship is NOT

Like all good Christians in the late 90s, I read me some Rick Warren and really appreciated his breaking down of the 5 purposes of the church into worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and mission. It was biblically based and made sense in American Christianity, but as I've come to understand Jesus' methods, I wish I had grown up with my current understanding of discipleship instead.

Before, I saw discipleship as simply growth in Christ after conversion. Now I see discipleship as a person's entire journey. When Jesus approached the apostles they didn’t believe in him as the Christ. So why would we think that the calling, confirming and training as a Christ follower would only begin after our confessions of faith?

When I look at Jesus' ministry on earth I can tell you some things that discipleship is not:

Jesus did each of those three things, which is part of the confusion. When Jesus made disciples he did all of those things and more.

I will admit that discipleship is enigmatic. Bill Hull encourages Christians not to "rip the mystery out of discipleship." This encourages me when I get down about not grasping the depth of what Jesus' ministry was all about.

You'll notice very few Christian conferences or books will give you exact steps of how to do something in your context. And you'll notice Jesus gave the early church very few directive policies. BECAUSE…

Following directives leads to dependence on the law. If you're able to do your ministry without the use of the Holy Spirit than your ministry isn't worth doing.

And anyone who claims they know each step of what the Holy Spirit wants for you is selling you something. Or worse...they're leading you toward legalism.

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