Some more thoughts about J.T. English’s book, DEEP DISCIPLESHIP
After using the first 2 chapters to lay a foundation, chapter 3 kicks into the meat of the book. In a nutshell, this is basic outline of for the last 5 chapters of the book. The author’s goal is to provide a template for shaping a discipleship strategy:
Chapter 3: The SPACE of Discipleship
Chapter 4: The SCOPE of Discipleship
Chapter 5: The SEQUENCE of Discipleship
Chapter 6: The SENDING of Discipleship
Chapter 7: The STRATEGY of Discipleship
CHAPTER 3: SPACE: WHERE DOES DISCIPLESHIP HAPPEN IN THE CHURCH?
In chapter 2, the author sought to make the point that the primary place for discipleship is within the life of the church. In chapter 3, he seeks to be more specific about how discipleship happens best in local churches.
Early in the chapter he shares how he realizes community is an important part of church life, but then states that “while small groups are great at a lot of great things, the are not that great at creating learning outcomes.” He also acknowledges that when groups turn into larger gatherings for learning, community diminishes. Basically, he brings up a tension that many churches struggle with. They are, typically, either good at creating fellowship and connection, or they are good at teaching and training. The challenge is for each church to figure out which spaces work best for building disciples. In the author’s words, “We need to have spaces in the local church in which learning, in the context of community, is the highest stated value.” Another thought-provoking quote was this: “community is indispensable to discipleship, but community is not discipleship.”
Much of this chapter focused on the author’s observation that Christians of our current day are woefully lacking in discipleship. He write, “Study after study shows that Christians do not know their Bible, the basics of the faith, or how to practice spiritual disciplines. We are basically illiterate when it comes to the Christian faith, yet we are adopting philosophies of ministry that deemphasize of learning about the Christian life. For some reason we have grown skeptical of learning and education in the church.”
There is “no one size fits all” approach to discipleship; each church must figure out what works best in their context. Some churches develop core classes on Sunday mornings while other churches create a year-long institute model. Whatever the case, the author encourages our leaning spaces to be active, always searching for ways to avoid learning that is too passive. Our learning spaces should also be challenging and pressing participants toward transformation and submission to Christ