Much of modern discipleship has focussed on making believers strong enough to survive the culture instead of bold enough to transform the culture. We have accountability groups almost completely focussed on sin avoidance rather than kingdom influence. We teach and train people to safeguard against the largeness and subtlety of temptation rather than training them to steward the generosity and beauty of transformation.
It seems like we have a siege mentality.
Consider the advice given to a young person preparing for university. We warn them of the dangers inherent in their new environment, the options available as presented by the enemy. Rarely do we give them the options the Father makes available in that new environment. We fail to remind them that they are in the situation for transformation.
In truth, we cannot continue to train disciples to think defensively and be mystified when they fail to live generously, creatively and expansively. We cannot focus on sin avoidance and expect to develop disciples with kingdom influence.
What if we reminded the young person going to university that until this point they have stewarded their faith well and now the Father is increasing their influence. What if instead of entering university expecting to struggle in faith, young adults entered university with the mindset that it is possible for the entire student body to surrender to Christ because of the grace and authority evident in their life. What if we moved from giving them tools to help them debate faith/s with their peers to giving them authority to demonstrate faith among the people. What if we commissioned them saying, "by the grace of God you have three/four years to change a campus."
For Jesus it is simply inconceivable that an environment wouldn’t change when the kingdom comes. Sadly most Christians find it inconceivable that it would.
Most but not all.
A friend of mine was recently in China training some people in 'effectively reaching their communities.' While having a meal in a restaurant she noticed a slightly dishevelled man and enquired as to what he did for a living. He informed her that he was a pastor. After conversing for some time, she asked the inevitable question “how many people are in your church.” "Oh, about a million" came his reply. She was absolutely stunned. It was hard for her to conceive of a church of a million people. Yet here she was with someone who led that church into life. The Pastor then asked my friend how many people were in her church. "About 600" came her reply. "How come?" He said.
It was inconceivable to him that the message of Jesus could be anything other than deeply transformational; inconceivable that it wouldn’t shake multitudes; inconceivable that it wouldn’t result in change in the city. His question has haunted her to this day. She couldn’t understand his effectiveness. He had no paradigm for her ineffectiveness. Everything he read in the scriptures had convinced him that once the gospel gets hold of one life it begins infecting everything that life touches.
His paradigm is closer to Jesus.
I suspect the people whom he disciples carry the mindset that everything changes when the kingdom comes to town. I suspect his discipling has focussed on making believers bold enough to transform the culture and not simply strong enough to survive the culture.