The first person we often have to disciple is ourselves. You’ll reproduce in kind. Some of you are in the process of planting a church and are wondering why it isn’t happening. It could be one of a thousand variables, but one may be that you are not actually yourself doing the very things you want reproduced in others. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON DISCIPLESHIP.
Discipleship, at its very core, is an act of reproduction. And just like parents have little control over the color of their newborn baby’s eyes or the lightness or darkness of that child’s skin, so it is with discipleship. So much of what results in our discipleship programs has very little to do with what we teach. In all honesty, for Wimber, the quality of your church’s discipleship program will have more to do with the character and nature of you, the disciple maker, than anything else.
As Wimber states above, we “reproduce in kind.” So, if I am one who cuts corners, looks for loopholes in every situation and never trusts anyone further than I can spit, guess what? Most of the folks who hang around my church will end up looking a lot like that. If I’m a man or woman who gives high regard to others, living a selfless, otherly life, chances are really good that most of those who stay around my church for any length of time will have big hearts for others as well. Make sense?
Quite honestly, it’s a scary thing. After thirty years of doing pastoral ministry, I’m both proud to report and also just a bit embarrassed that a lot of the folks who have hung around me for any length of time do actually start looking and acting a lot like me! Now, I truly enjoy that fact when I see a quality in me that I love, but feel a bit sheepish when the opposite happens! Let me give you an example or two.
Sandy and I are worshippers at heart. We’re long-time musicians and have always been suckers for a great worship song. In the earliest days of attending Vineyard conferences, I’d always get stuck in the midst of intimate worship and quite often, find myself crying in God’s presence. I remember at one big national conference, I found myself so overcome by God’s presence in the midst of a Brian Doerksen worship song; I simply had to sit down in my chair and cry my eyes out to God. After some time went by, and the conference had moved on to the announcements or something else, one nice lady sitting near me whispered in my ear, asking if she could pray for me. She obviously thought I was in great pain. I looked up with a big smile and said, “Thanks, but I always do this when God is around!” She gave me a puzzled look and quickly went back to listening to the announcements!
So it is with so many of those who have hung around me over the years. My church will always have a bunch of worshippers who will drop just about everything and anything when someone says, “it’s time to worship!”
But just as Wimber says here, the opposite occurs in me and my church as well. You see, I’m also a wee bit shy (or should I say overwhelmingly introverted?) when it comes to outward, expressive evangelism. So there you have it. Over the years, most of the folks who gather around me tend to be the same way. I’m not proud of it, but I do realize that it’s true that most of the folks that I disciple over the years will tend to look and act a lot like me! So, good, bad, and ugly, that’s the facts, and I have to face that truth and do my best to broaden my own discipleship skills if I want others to do the same!
So as we start out this final section of The Wisdom of Wimber, let’s remember that real discipleship in our churches begins and ends with you and me, the shepherd of the church. If you want men and women in your church to look like Jesus, you just better be about the business of allowing Jesus to be in full control of your life, first and foremost. If you want folks in your church to be a praying people, you better become one yourself. If you want flaming evangelists, you better not think that by preaching about it long enough, that will make it so. As Wimber states, discipleship is all about “reproducing in kind.” I recall in other settings he used to say it this way as well, “quality discipleship is more caught than taught.”
So, excuse me folks. Gotta go. As I see it, if I want more people in my church with passionate, obedient hearts for Jesus, I guess I better go practice a bit more on mine!
Father, the mystery of quality discipleship is not all that complicated. If I want more of Jesus in others, I need to get more of Jesus in me. If I want others to have a heart for the poor, I need to work that into my own life. Holy Spirit, come. Work into me, first and foremost, the all magnificent presence of Christ, so that any disciple I work with will receive you as well. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- So let’s be honest. What negative qualities and mannerisms are evident in those around me?
- Once I can identify those issues, am I bold enough to stop accusing others and look inside my own heart to see if many people are actually catching these things from me?
- On the opposite side of the coin, what positive aspects of Christ-likeness can I develop within me so that others can actually catch it from me?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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