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Friday, October 7, 2011

2154--discipleship is relationship not class

2154—discipleship is a relationship not a class

My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.   In preparing for these commentaries, I have wound up doing a lot of reading of writings that leaders in our churches read, which all too often is totally different from that which those not in leadership positions read.  That is one more of the features that in our traditional church structure separate clergy and laity castes, and a feature of our modern society that makes some leaders uncomfortable, that everyday believers can lay their hands on the writings directed at leadership only.  As I’ve said previously, the original words from which both laity and clergy came from originally meant all believers.  With that said, today, I again quote from Steven S. Lyzenga’s writing, today on the subject of:

discipleship is a relationship, not a class:

If you really want to see people grow, place them into real-life ministry situations

where they must feed the poor, deliver the demonized, pray with the distraught

and actually hear from the Holy Spirit about what to do next. Then let them

“decompress” in a small-group community (strangely resembling a house church)

where they can share their stories, get answers to real questions (rather than

classroom questions) and build community with like-minded believers who share

their “battle scars.” Trust me. Growth will be no problem!

The most effective way to grow disciples of Jesus Christ according to (Maurice) Smith is

meeting the spiritually sick where they are at, in real-life ministry situations where real life happens. Followed by decompressing in an environment where they can share their

stories and real-life lessons in a small community of like-minded believers “resembling a

house church.” This in essence describes the simple church discipleship methodology;

and not coincidently, looks much like Jesus and Paul’s discipleship methodology.

The small community of like-minded believers (i.e. a simple church environment)

is also imperative to produce effective disciple-making missionaries. After all, one

reproduces oneself in like kind. If one’s only church experience is institutional church,

this is what one will tend to reproduce on the mission field. An anonymous experienced

missionary named Camel, trained in the Southern Baptist Church Planting Movement

(CPM) model and blogged about the downside of his institutional church experience on

his mission field experience. According to Camel, whereas his missions’ organization

spent tons of money, time, and energy researching, documenting and teaching a “simple

church” approach to mission work, they we’re seeing very few CPM’s actually taking

place. Attempting to get at the root of the problem, Camel discovered that you can’t

create, model, and coach something into place that you’ve never experienced (i.e. you

can’t create, model, and coach a simple church approach on the mission field if you’ve

only experienced an institutional church approach back home).

Camel analyzed the two main elements of a CPM and why missionaries with an

institutional church background often fail at it, (1) Meeting in homes:

How many of us attend small groups in the USA as our sole and primary form of

church? We do Sunday school, have big choirs, massive budgets, impersonal

services, shallow interactions, staff to do all of the dirty work and then we come

overseas and try to plant small groups that meet in homes. We don’t understand it

because we’ve never experienced it.

(2) One-on-one discipleship:

In a recent team meeting of around 25 people we were asked to describe a

time when we were discipled. The room was full of people with vast church

experience, seminary degrees and ton of training and yet there were only two

responses. Why? Because in the SBC we usually interpret the Great Commission

as a call to go and tell ... not a call to share life, the good and bad with those

around us in order to help others be disciples. If we’re not being discipled by our

leaders, then how can we expect to know how to do it with new believers?170

Camel’s story can be repeated many times over by those who attempt to take (institutional church) discipleship methods to the mission field, especially (in unreached people group areas). In contrast, the (simple church) value of meeting in small disciple-making environments seems to be much more conducive to releasing effective disciple-making laborers toward making disciples of all nations.


            You can contact me at, or I can be reached at 757-735-xxxx.  On my blog,, I have a link to this writing in its entirely, as it is posted on the web.  My blog post connected to this blip is October 6, 2011.  You can find out more about people involved in world missions at, and you can find out more about simple churches in this area at 

            This is from pages 81 through 82 of Steven S. Lyzenga’s dissertation, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, which can be seen at

There you will find further footnotes as

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