New Year’s Eve, 2022: A herd of luggage, stranded at the Austin airport.
Leadership drives discipleship—but not as the sole “maker” of disciples. Your role as a leader is primarily to change the organizational DNA, the environment that keeps discipleship accelerating biblically, even when you’re not around.
So I’m writing this letter to leaders in churches, about a long-standing myth that’s weakening the disciples in your charge. The myth is known as “herd community”. That’s a fable that suggests that, metaphorically, like the herded baggage in the picture, people gathered in a church community causes in disciples.
The gathering of believers is a beautifully God-directed design. Yet the discipleship Christ directed is more than simply that.
Disciples are pursuers of Christ.
Followers teamed in pairs or triplets outside church walls, living and being seen and watched in workplaces, civic settings and families.
It looks good that the bags in the photo are gathered at the airport. But they’re not fully in their intended role—they are separated, apart from the person they are supposed to be with.
Herd Community is Not Discipleship
Being in a pro shop is one symptom of a golfer, but being in a pro shop does not make someone a golfer. Gatherings are symptoms of disciples, but not the cause of discipleship. Being in a church is the “ought” of a disciple’s life. Actively pursuing (following) Christ, outside the walls of a church alongside another disciple is the “is” of being a disciple.
Jesus Organized and Launched His Disciples
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves…” Luke 10:1-3 [NASB]
Jesus organized seventy disciples, paired them up and deployed them with specific objectives. In the same way, the Church, and your local church is an organization.
A church organization, absent the express mission of making disciples will drift into organizational distractions—and leave discipleship in the wake.
For Christianity, that mission is leaders, organizing their community to develop disciples, and to send out disciples to make disciples.
Christ called leaders of Christian communities to set up a culture where two or three go together into ordinary life, as teams before the watching world.
Would you help us unpack this problem—to rethink and reform discipleship—back to the way Christ intended discipleship to function? Reach out to us at www.thediscipledilemma.com to talk about discipling as Christ intended it.