Discipleship 101


          Where do we learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ?  I know this seems like a relatively simple question, non-controversial and all that. But when you start to think about how we would answer that, we might encounter some “sticky wickets” as the British say. Naturally, a good answer would be from our parents and relatives, perhaps our baptismal sponsors. After all, they make a promise at our baptism to teach us the elements of our faith such as the creed, commandments and the Lord’s prayer. Some might say that it can happen on our own; in nature, reading a devotional, studying the Bible and the like. These are both fine answers, but I believe that there is a place where we learn not just the tenets of our faith, but we experience the primary nexus of our faith.  In worship.  Think about it; it is in this place, this experience where we learn how we are to treat one another, even when we have disagreements. It is here where we learn about the depth of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. It is here that we experience, first hand, God’s undeserving grace in the sacraments, and it is here where we are named and claimed as God’s beloved. We practice welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, clothing the naked. We recognize God’s transcendence and realize that we are not gods. Thus, the church serves as a training ground for creating disciples of Jesus Christ. Not primarily as a building or a structure, but rather as an example of how we are to treat one another in the world beyond these walls. We learn of Jesus’ love and then we are sent to teach others by demonstrating that love. As part of our training, we worship, we give of our time, talent and treasures. We practice trusting God completely in this “place” in order that we might do so the other six days of every week. We encounter God here so that we might learn to see God outside of here. Indeed, we are students of the master as we sit at his feet to listen, learn and obey. The sticky wicket arises when our lives change so that our priorities shift and “church” is placed lower on the list. Which brings up the tough question: if people are not attending worship, where are they learning discipleship?