throwing down a discipleship challenge

First Presbyterian of Greenville
First Presbyterian of Greenville

Tuesday’s speaking trip to Greenville turned out to be a good time. But my experience, without exception, is always positive when I have the opportunity to stand in front of a group of men and encourage them in their journey as followers of the Living Way of Jesus.

Essentially, we talked about the fundamental challenge I always throw down: “Let’s make a shift from thinking of ourselves as members of a particular church, to living as passionate disciples of Jesus.”

Church membership is an important commitment, and I’m all for joining the church. But I want us to think of ourselves as disciples, Jesus-followers who are exploring – and being encouraged in – living faith, in the context of our affiliation with the local church.

DISCIPLE versus MEMBER: Here are a few sound-bites that seemed to be helpful over at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville.

– Membership identifies us… Discipleship animates us.

– Membership quantifies the church… Discipleship equips the church.

– Members sit on the premises… Disciples stand on the promises.

– Membership brings us together in community for worship… Discipleship is what happens the other six days of the week.

Membership notes our affiliation; Discipleship is the living faith that animates the lives of committed followers of The Living Way.

Men's leader Dallas, and Roy Alexander
Men’s leader Dallas, and Roy Alexander

COMMISSION: I shared a few stories about how being a disciple has impacted – and continues to impact – both my day-to-day life and the lives of the people I encounter.

And that – the encountering part – is critically important. Because encountering turns out to be a key element of what it means if we intend to be disciples of Jesus instead of just church members. You see, part of being a disciple is making disciples.

In Matthew 28, when Jesus gave The Great Commission, he didn’t charge his followers with the responsibility to, “Stay put, get comfortable, form a private club, bring a casserole if necessary, and hope some other people who look and think just like you walk in off the street.”

No! What Jesus said was, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples.” “Go and make followers of all people in the world.” “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life.”

“Go into your everyday and share the Gospel of Love with everyone; invite them into life; and bring them along as new disciples.”

with Roy, my host
with Roy, my host

So what’s it going to be? Are we going to be members of a social club, where the preacher plays the role of chaplain? Or are we going to be followers of the Living Way of Jesus, disciples, and disciple-makers?

Peace – DEREK


  1. Derek – I love your blogs and just finished reading a couple of books that fit with your theme. I am currently reading Missional Renaissance (WOW! This is right where I am) and was profoundly impacted by More Jesus, Less Religion.

    I would make one edit to you list. Rather than “Membership brings us together in community for worship… Discipleship is what happens the other six days of the week.” I would write “Membership brings us together in community for worship… Discipleship is 24/7.


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