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Reclaiming the Jesus Model

Turning the World Upside Down

Just two decades after Jesus ascended into heaven, Paul, the greatest first century missionary and author of two-thirds of the New Testament is with his friend Silas in a city called Thessalonica. There, the Jews – being jealous – cried to the city officials: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also!” And these city officials were disturbed

Think about that. Just over twenty years from the resurrection of Jesus, in a town nearly a thousand miles away from where Jesus ascended, the reputation of the disciples is that they are turning the world upside down!!! 

Now, two thousand years after Jesus ascended, every Sunday – just in America – we gather nearly 90 million Christians into church buildings ostensibly to help them fulfill the Great Commission and become better disciples themselves. But I have never heard anyone accusing the American Church of turning the world upside down. Our neighborhoods, towns and cities seem remarkably unchanged despite our regular meetings. Now that should be disturbing. 

How is it that the American Church is equipped with great pastors, incredible sermons, fantastic resources and amazing revelations, but seem impotent to halt our culture’s decline into darkness?

Jesus Made Disciples, Not Converts

It’s notable that in the Great Commission Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples how to make disciples of all nations. Why? Where were the instructions for fulfilling this commission? Why did Jesus not even point them in the right direction? Because there was already a model of discipleship in place that was effective and transformative. 

It’s the model used by the Jews – used by Jesus himself. It’s the model that the disciples experienced with Jesus for the three years of his earthly ministry. A model based on relationship, example and experience. More than instructing them, Jesus asked questions of his disciples, letting Holy Spirit reveal truth to them. He modeled for them how to handle the Pharisees, heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. Then, he let them go out on their own to experience God’s provision and power working through them.

This “Jesus model” is largely absent from our church services, Bible studies, revival meetings and small groups. Instead, nearly all of our “discipleship” activities revolve around one person addressing a group of people.

Information Does Not Beget Transformation

This one-to-many model of information transfer was used by Jesus to tell people about the Kingdom of God, but not to make disciples. Today the one-to-many model cannot even effectively prepare high school students for real life and yet we expect it to create world-changing disciples for Jesus.

Because our “discipleship” is centered around information transfer rather than transformational experience, we end up with people ill-equipped to make new disciples. Because we don’t use the Jesus model of discipleship, we can really only bring people to Jesus, not – on the whole – truly equip them to demonstrate and enforce the Kingdom of God. So instead of making disciples of all nations our “great commission” becomes, “go and make converts of all nations.” 

But the Jesus model of discipleship is not lost and our goal is to reclaim it for the Church.

Making Space to Make Disciples

Imagine a discipleship base:

  • Centered around the Presence of God and being present with Him
  • Where healthy relationships are taught, modeled and prioritized
  • Where time spent in the classroom listening to teaching is far outweighed by time spent practicing and experimenting with the concepts being taught
  • Where every student’s heart and emotions are valued and ministered to
  • Where mature believers actively mentor students during the course of their training and beyond

This is our vision: To have a property soaked in worship & prayer, where this kind of training could take place and from which mobile ministry teams could be sent out across the community, the nation and the world. From this place disciples can be  raised up to be emotionally healthy, confident of their vision and purpose and empowered with the tools Jesus provided to move the Kingdom of God forward on this earth in power.

Join us as we work to reclaim the Jesus model of discipleship and launch disciples that will turn the world upside down!

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