We are waist deep in a new focus on discipleship, but I want to touch an issue that I am seeing in our new “culture of discipleship”. We are working hard to make a packaged product that we can use, calling it multiplication and reproduction, but it’s more like cloning. Reproducing disciples is good, cloning however is not working.
We can see the difference with a simple look at biology. In reproduction, a new individual is created that has similarities to the parents, but is unique. This new individual has opportunity to grow and mature in it’s own way. It’s a unique person. Cloning however is different. It takes an individual and makes an exact copy in an attempt to recreate the first individual. There is no room for individuality, just duplication. In our discipleship, I am seeing more and more and more corporate modeling, we use works like alignment and unity, but often we are attempting to make clones, people who do what we would do, when and how, with the same ideas, the same passions and the same expected outcomes. We want our disciples to do what we want, how we want it done and when we think it should be done.
This leads us back to a very old issue. We want to be with people like us, we assume people think like us and act like us. We want people to have our priorities, visions and expectations. We spend a great deal of time pushing others to be more like us. Discipleship should be helping others to be more like Christ. During the process of discipling others, we should be continuing to be transformed into the image of Christ. We should look more like Christ, but also be functioning as our part of the body. We have to disciple others to become their part of the body. A hand should teach a foot to relate to the head, a hand shouldn’t teach a foot to be a hand. If we do, we become frustrated because the foot can’t be a hand, and the foot is not equipped to be a foot.
So, what discipleship should be is training in proper use of the Word. We should teach others how to read, study and apply scripture. We should teach them how to pray, how to love and care. We encourage these things, we model these things. We take disciples with us and show them how we serve, understanding they may never serve in the area that we do. We should not spend time teaching them to do what we do, guilting them into serving where we think they should serve or making specific life decisions that fit our agenda. We want to create followers of Christ who are also followers of us and are made in our image. This mode of discipleship, cloning may be a great resource in the corporate world, but in the church, I believe it is causing a great amount of destruction. I one heard something attributed to Spurgeon that Christ used two vessels on the night of the Passover. A cup of wine to drink and a basin of water to wash feet. Spurgeon says we need to let the cup be the cup and the basin be the basin. If you are a cup, disciple basins and not just cups.