I attended my conferences Gathering of Orders earlier in the week. It is a 48 hour gathering of all clergy in the conference to build connection and vision together. Cokesbury, a Methodist publication company that provides resources to churches and pastors had a table set up with various books and other publications for sale. They had a few books on discipleship on the table that I picked up and looked through. As I did, I noticed that all of them were mainly focused on building or instilling character. I received some resources from Lifeway in the mail on discipleship. As I looked through them, they were mainly about character as well. Both focused more on a Bible study type format and spiritual formation. There was very little on spiritual reproduction. My district is offering and beginning a training tonight for all in its district on spiritual formation. Character and spiritual growth are something that the church is heavily slanted towards today.
Now I want to say that I do believe that spiritual growth and looking at our character are extremely important, and a key necessity to you and I becoming disciples and making disciples of Jesus Christ. I spend over an hour and a half each morning in the word and prayer. But our spiritual growth is only a part of our growth as disciples. Spiritual growth alone is not our end goal. Discipleship is, and becoming disciples that multiply and make disciples. In his Great Commission, Jesus did tell us to teach people and help them become obedient (character and spiritual formation) However, that was not what he commissioned us to become and make. He commissioned us to make disciples, and to make disciples requires spiritual reproduction.
If there was a “discipleship gauge” with spiritual growth on the left side of the gauge and spiritual reproduction on the right side, the needle that represents you as a disciple should be in the center of that gauge. Equal value placed on both. What I see when I look at what the church is teaching, and what is then replicated in its parishioners, is a needle pegged way to the left on spiritual growth. And I also observe that because of this neglect on pursuing spiritual reproduction, it is rare for people to reinvest what has been invested in them into others. They do not have the confidence in themselves to do it.
We need create a culture that moves from heavily valuing spiritual growth to one that also values spiritual reproduction. We need to move the needle that is swung way towards goodness, back towards reproduction. A move from information to transformation.
Looking at your own personal “discipleship gauge” where is your needle pointing? You are probably daily spending time working on your spiritual growth in time in the Word and prayer, If not you should. Are you spending equal amount of time in spiritual reproduction? If not you should.
If you took the stories in ACTs of all the works and miracles that were taking place; the reproduction stories of people hearing, receiving and accepting the Gospel and put you finger over who was doing them, and move them to the Gospels, you would think Jesus was doing it! And if you removed these stories of spiritual reproduction from the book of Acts it would reduce it to a lifeless text book. Reduce Christianity and the Gospel from a movement that no walls could contain to secluded in a monastery.
Read the Book of Acts. Then spend time in prayer looking at your walk as a disciple. What does spiritual reproduction look like in your walk? What is the results and goal of your spiritual growth? How are you, Where are you and to Whom are you intentionally setting aside margins in your life to reproduction of disciples in other?
Please share your reflections, questions and prayers in the comment box below.