Do you think we should be looking to disciple everyone in our network of relationships or just Christians?
I think we go for everyone…wouldn’t it be great if we had multitudes of people who were ‘growing and becoming more and more like Jesus’ (Hirsch, Untamed)?
I’ve seen this in practice at church. We tend to operate on a ‘belong before you believe’ policy. Now, it’s not that we think that people can belong to the church without first belonging to Christ. So, to differentiate, we refer to the ‘community’ quite often rather than the ‘church’. (I say that, but it’s probably only me at church who is a bit purist about who the church comprises theologically!)
Unbelievers can and should be part of the community of relationships that we enjoy as a body. Indeed, I am convinced that community is our best hope for displaying Christ to others – they have to be close enough to us to actually see the difference that he makes! Our experience in church over the last five years has been that those who become part of the community network of relationships eventually join the church by making a commitment for Christ.
It’s messy church because you never know quite where someone is ‘at’, until the day they one day tell you that they are giving their life over to Christ. But I’ve seen lives converted and discipled like I’ve never seen in any other approach. These guys have been disciples before they were ever converts… As a result, ongoing discipleship is not a shock for them, as it can be for those who are simply ‘converted’ one day.
Are you with me here? And if you are, what small steps could you take with the non-Christians in your network in order to disciple them to Christ? We were, after all, called to make disciples of all nations (not only the church!)…