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I’ve been on a journey to understand how we can make disciples in today’s world. In my last post I shared about the importance of us focussing discipleship on the “hungry” (You can read it here). It would be possible to read that post and think that I somehow think we should ignore people who don’t show a desire to embrace the discipleship journey. That couldn’t be further from my view. We all struggle at times to embrace the journey of personal transformation. One important aspect of making disciples is casting a vision for personal growth.
We can’t somehow force people to want to grow but we can inspire them. We want to create mature people who are internally motivated not externally controlled.
So how we cast a vision for discipleship? Well here are two ideas.
1. Paint A Beautiful Picture of Jesus
The goal of our discipleship journey is to have Jesus formed within us. To become like him in thought, words and actions.
For some people this just doesn’t sound appealing and part of that is perhaps the image of Jesus they have in their mind. It simply doesn’t sound like the kind of person they want to be.
A.W. Tozer famously said:
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
This image we have of Jesus is so often formed by our own presuppositions and our experiences in life. Stereotypes or past presentations of the Son of God cloud our perspective. Sometimes men can see Jesus as so meek and mild that he is soft and weak. Maybe we think about Jesus being aloof and distant and floating through his ministry above all the pain and clamour of people.
These images seem extreme when we call them out but if we are honest we all have dirt on the lens we use to see Jesus.
The reality is that Jesus is the most compelling and beautiful human to ever have lived. He reveals for us a life that is full of joy and peace. He reveals for all of humanity a new way to be human. Part of our role as leaders and culture creators is to display Jesus in all his glory – so that we can be caught up in worship and devotion.
Part of this is creating a culture of worship in our churches. Not just that we sing songs but that our hearts are being trained to adore God with everything. It moves beyond a place of only intellectual engagement to involve us in a love relationship with the God who formed us.
If we want people to be inspired to be Christ like – what kind of image of Christ are we portraying? Are we inspiring people to adore him and long for him to be formed in their lives?
To lead us there we need to use all the skills and creativity we have. It happens through the use of music and art and the pictures we paint with our words. In a desire to paint a beautiful picture of what we are becoming we must use every means posible.
If we want to create a vision for growth we must create a vision for Jesus, yes the Son of God, but also the most beautiful human to ever have lived. The first born of a new way to be human.
2. Share Stories of Transformation
One of the greatest ways to inspire change in our lives is through the power of story. Stories of God’s transformation engage us and help us to picture a more hope-filled future. What God will do in one persons life he can do in mine.
So as leaders we have a role to create space for these stories of transformation. If we are struggling to find them as current examples in our midst then maybe we reach for the stories in our history. The way Jesus changed your life 20 years ago, still has the same power to impact people today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever after all!
Stories of people amongst your community are generally the most powerful as we can more easily relate to these people. We can go and ask them about their transformation over a coffee afterwards. Perhaps we have even been eyewitnesses to a journey of transformation that begins inside and gradually impacts their behaviour and outward appearance.
Failing stories from within our communities though there are countless examples from history. Whether that is from the bible stories where we can help make those stories come to life, or if it is from Christians throughout the generations who have experienced God’s work in their life.
The stories of people finding more freedom, peace, joy, healing, hope are extremely powerful. Particularly when we hear of the struggle and what they had to overcome to get there.
We can also make the most of these moments by the response we provide people with afterwards in our gatherings. Having heard a story of transformation why don’t we invite people to say yes to that for themselves. Perhaps we can pray that what God did for one he would do in our lives.
God loves to answer those heart-felt prayers.
Telling stories is a huge part of creating a vision for a transformational discipleship process.
A Preferred Future
Vision plays a huge role in our lives. We sometimes need help to see how our lives can be any different from how they are currently. We get sucked into the gravitational pull of our busy and often repetative lives. We sometimes need reminders to step back a moment and dream of a better way.
If we can paint a beautiful picture of Jesus and consistently tell the stories of transformed lives then we will give people a vision that motivates them internally. They don’t need to stay stuck in their brokenness, they don’t have to compromise and accept hopelessness.
What is before us is an open road of possibility when we lay down our lives to the one who loves us just as we are but loves us too much to leave us where we are.
Creating a vision for personal growth and discipleship is a key role for us as ministry leaders.
I would love to hear your thoughts. How else can we create a vision for growth? Let me know below in the comments.
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