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Time to ditch a broken discipleship model

This past week I blogged about Willow Creek’s recent expensive, comprehensive study of the effectiveness of their programs in discipling people. You’ve got to applaud them for putting everything they stand for with their “Seeker Sensitive” model of church at risk. The conclusion was th…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

This past week I blogged about Willow
Creek’s recent expensive, comprehensive study of the effectiveness of their
programs in discipling people. You’ve got to applaud them for putting
everything they stand for with their “Seeker Sensitive” model of church at risk.

The conclusion was that discipleship
doesn’t happen through workbooks and programs. Duh. Paul said, “Imitate me.” He was
the curriculum.

My friend Clint told me that he shared the Willow Creek study
with one of the executives in a company that is a successful purveyor of
curriculum.

She couldn’t believe it. She
was offended that this megachurch would say that they’ve been doing
discipleship wrong. She said, “They really think they’ve wasted millions of
dollars? I don’t believe it.”

Clint just said, “Well you’ll
have to talk to Bill, but that’s what he said.” Clint went on to tell her about
a woman named Jill who won fifteen Muslim converts as a businesswoman in the
Middle East just by “doing life” with them.

The curriculum executive said,
“Well what did they do next, did they start a Bible study? They need to start a Bible study.”

Clint said, “Why?”

“Well, I don’t know, but that’s
just what you’re supposed to do.”

OK folks, for heaven sakes, let’s
all study our Bibles. But isn’t it also
time that we all joined Bill Hybels in declaring bankruptcy? Our old paradigms of discipleship have failed
us miserably. The church you belong to may be intact,
but overall, our churches are withering, and if you’ve hung out with young
people lately, you know that they understand the emperor has no clothes
on.

It’s time we got back to basics and
started imitating Jesus. We need to toss
out our old paradigms of discipleship and join Jill – we need to start doing
the stuff.

Comments (6)

  • Heather (of Gracedbychrist.com)

    I agree 100%. The Lord has finally given us, as a family, peace about going into the new year without a formal church to hang on toits just us and Him and all the fellowship and opportunities He provides through our daily life. Will we end up back at a formal church? I don’t know. For right now we know we are where He wants us and that is exactly where we want to be, regardless of what other people may think about our decision.

  • I still get funny looks from parents and … well almost everyone when I explain our discipleship model. I through out the small group/Bible study thing two years ago. Discipleship can happen through that stuff, but it also happens in many other ways, and, frankly, that stuff just got in the way and helped people hide more than be discipled. I’m glad to see you talking about it Seth.

  • Seth, come on man. You keep this up and you’re going to start a revolution or something. What? Do you want people to actually get what Christ is all about? Do you actually want young people to live Christ and not just play act? This is scary stuff, dangerous stuff, the kind that changes lives and churches and cities and nations and…………Keep it up! I’m a product of multiple disciplers, Larry V, Ben B, Gerald S, Phil K, Greg H. It takes a village right? Nah, it takes a community of faith to build disciples. Keep building hermano

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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