“I really want to start following Jesus…what should I do?” If a friend asked you this question today, how would you respond? For me this scenario highlights the “church” paradigm shift that has transpired in my life and touches on a key reason why I believe so strongly in the simple church journey.
For most of my life, I have thought the appropriate response to a disciple would look a little like this checklist:
–“Find a good church”–maybe mine, maybe another if it would be a better fit.
–Set up a meeting with the pastor of the church to talk about membership and getting baptized.
–Check into various ministries in which to serve and meet other people with similar interests who are also following Jesus.
–Start regular Bible reading–maybe I would even recommend a place to start.
–Remember daily prayer.
I would have made a note to myself to check in with this person from time to time (especially in the immediate future) to continue to encourage him to follow through with my suggestions.
Now, I would answer the question much differently.
Now, I would encourage him to be baptized and even offer to baptize him myself and right away. I would begin meeting with this person weekly (if not more) to show him how to read the Bible, to listen to God speak, and to help him obey what God says (See Life Transformation Group). I would help him start initiating conversations with family or friends right away about Jesus in hope that they would follow Christ too. I would show this new follower how he can help his friends start following Jesus. I would patiently explore the possibility that God might want to birth a church family around this person through his natural sphere of influence. I would seek to walk with him so that he could learn what it means to be the church–even if that means me spending less (or even leaving) those in my church family for a season. If that door seemed unopened, then I would welcome him into my family of faith until such a time came. In essence I would seek to “baptize him, help him become a disciple, and teach him to obey all that Jesus commanded.”
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I do not feel that I’m very good at this, nor do I feel adequate for such a task. In addition, I find that thinking about my faith this way can be inconvenient and hard at times. However, foundational to the simple church paradigm is the belief that, when Jesus gave the Great Commission, it was this kind of missional life He had in mind. He wanted us to make the disciples! We forsake many of the good things that the traditional church offers for the hope that God will help us become the kind of disciples who make other disciples and that we will get to see His church grow before our very eyes!
Would you like to join us on this adventure?