Here are ways of exploring and growing discipleship that make sense in a Messy setting.
How do we encourage discipleship?
Jesus said, ‘… go and make disciples of all nations…’
Matthew 28:18–19, NIV
- Be ready for the long haul—making disciples can be a long, slow process. It’s more like parenting a child than microwaving a ready meal.
- Remember, we’re all in the process of becoming disciples: none of us are finished, complete and perfect. We’re all work in progress. We are disciples and we’re becoming disciples.
- Hospitality means that we come close to Christ through the outsider, the stranger, someone who is different from us: expect to grow as a disciple when you open your door to those who are different from you.
- Relationship and friendship are at the heart of discipleship. Make time for friendship rather than programmes.
- Discipleship is an ‘us’ thing, not primarily a ‘me’ thing. Try to grow disciples together, not in isolation.
- Keep the generations together to learn from and with each other. Resist the temptation to split according to age.
- Remember that many Messy people are starting from a very different place from those who have been part of a traditional church much of their lives.
- Simply doing Messy Church better is a valid way of making disciples.
- Work out what grows disciples in your church tradition and bring it (possibly reinvented) into Messy Church. Holy Communion might be an example of this.
- The need for a big team is an opportunity to make disciples. Inviting people to join the team means that they will inevitably spend more time with scripture, with Christians, in prayer and in a position of ownership, belonging and offering.
- Take risks with unlikely people on the team (but make sure your safeguarding structures are robust and effective).
- Help everybody to belong. This is a good way to help people believe, behave and bless in turn.
- Honour and value every form of learning: the way your team lives out its faith in front of guests; intentional apprenticing, mentoring or coaching of people as well as formal and academic learning.
- Give families the tools and confidence to disciple each other as a family in the home: don’t try to hold on to power by initiating everything yourself.
- Expect God to play his part. Notice Him at work in small things, not just in the big ‘requests for baptism’ or ‘conversion moments’, exciting though these are.
- Doing what you do with purpose and intention is likely to have better results than simply meandering on aimlessly month by month: at the very least you will notice the transformation in people, not just take it for granted.
- Enjoy the discipleship of finding Immanuel in the everyday, messy world that is family life: God with us where we are, not just in tidy churches.
- Be aware of the rhythms of life and combine the monthly rhythm with occasional ‘festival’ rhythms when you do something liminal, edgy, risky, out of the ordinary.