Programming for Discipleship 1

A church that wants to program for disciple-making needs to do at least these three things:

  1. Teach a biblical worldview (large groups)
  2. Teach and apply the content of the Bible to daily living, with general accountability (small groups [6-25 participants])
  3. Practice transparency and accountability that focuses on specific issues or behaviors in accountability groups (3-5 participants).

FIRST: teach a biblical worldview.

  • A worldview is a coherent way of looking at the world. It is almost always assumed, seldom questioned or examined.  More caught than taught.
  • A worldview deals with big questions, which have big and complex answers.
  • There are MORE Christian (biblical) ways of looking at the world, and LESS Christian (biblical) ways of looking at the world.
  • Because the questions are big and the answers complex, I don’t think that there is a single succinct “correct” or “Christian” answer to the questions.  But elements of the answers will cluster in a more biblical (or less biblical) manner.

(I cheerfully admit to adapting this concept and these materials from N.T. Wright’s multi-volume biblical theology, Christian Origins and the Question of God.)

Let me illustrate what I mean.  Here is a series of worldview questions, with answers that are derived from and consistent with biblical teaching.

  • What is God like?  He is powerful, sovereign, good; he is orderly, not capricious.  He is love.  He creates, and loves and provides for the things he creates.  (You can derive all these answers from the depiction of God in Genesis 1.)
  • What are WE like?  (What does it mean to be human?)  We, like God, are moral creatures.  We are created in God’s image, meant to share essential characteristics with him.  We are social.  We need meaningful work.  We are diverse (in Genesis 1, male and female), different but equal, different but all created in God’s image.  (You can derive all of this from Genesis 1 & 2.)
  • Where are we?  (How should we understand the world around us?)  The world that we live in was created by a loving God for our benefit and responsible use.  As God created it, it was good and holy.  It is separate from God, but it bears his fingerprints, the marks of his character.  (Genesis 1)
  • What is wrong with where we are?  (What’s the problem?)  Every culture in the world acknowledges that something is wrong with the world we live in  It is still beautiful and good, but it is no longer the place God created it to be.  And we are not the beings God created US to be.  So what happened?  (You can start answering these questions from Genesis 3 – 11.)

Several other questions are necessary for constructing a biblical worldview, but this is enough to illustrate the principle.

A church that wants to make disciples needs to teach and reinforce a biblical worldview, telling the stories of the Bible over and over and over, pointing to its people how the Bible’s story (the Bible’s answer to these questions) contradicts the world’s stories (non-biblical answers to these questions.)

This should be one of the main functions of preaching.  This is the kind of teaching that is done well in large groups.

(NEXT: small group Bible study)

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