Thursday, September 7, 2023

Disciples Making Disciples

In case you need more evidence that the model of most churches is flawed (the idea of creating leadership offices and just plugging various men and women in as matriarchs and trying to keep things fundamentally the same over time), look no further than the disciples themselves. 

To be fair, it looks like the disciples are starting out with our model: one of their first acts of business is to replace Judas Iscariot with a new disciple, someone who has established himself with the group and demonstrates the kind of leadership potential they are looking for. This is, essentially, moving someone else into grandma's house to try to keep the tradition alive. 

But the disciples don't stay there. Rather, once they have re-established their core group, they start branching out. Philip is talking with an Ethiopian eunuch. Peter is starting to visit regions near and far. A bunch of new guys are starting to come alongside - Silas, Paul, John Mark. We're starting to see names that we haven't seen before, starting to see new groups forming. New traditions building. New generations are coming to a new grandma's house. 

Imagine if that's not what we saw. Imagine if the disciples had decided that they were just going to keep their core 12 forever. They were just going to invest in a few guys, build them up, help them establish themselves, and replace the other disciples as they aged out or died so that there was always one good, solid council of 12 available in Jerusalem for teaching, edifying, leading, etc. Imagine if the disciples had never decided to branch out and build new pockets of Christianity in the region, let alone in the world. 

Imagine if Paul had worked his entire life to establish himself with their group but never got voted in. If he never gets voted into the 12 and the 12 control everything, Paul doesn't get any opportunity. No Paul, no letters of the New Testament. No Corinth. No Ephesus. No...nothing. We have so very little without Paul. Imagine if Paul never got that shot because the disciples were so busy trying to maintain "the way we've always done it" that nobody ever got a chance to grow. 

Thankfully, that's not how it happened. Thankfully, the disciples immediately decided to take Jesus seriously and to go out and make disciples of all nations. 

This is the model we were talking about that necessarily happens when one generation moves on. 

The disciples spent their whole lives meeting at Jesus's house, to say as much. But then, Jesus leaves them and instead of continuing to try to meet all the time at Jesus's house, the disciples decide to start hosting some gatherings at their own places. They bring in a new generation of disciples to grow and to establish new traditions with. Now, we have twelve guys who always met in one place who have grown and branched out into twelve places that we meet. Twelve places with their own traditions and memories and relationships and foundations. 

And the guys who met in those twelve places branched out and suddenly, we had one hundred twenty places to meet. And the persons who met in those hundred and twenty places branched out you see how it happens? As one generation moves on, the next generation branches out and more disciples are made. And more disciples after that. And suddenly, the church...well, it isn't grandma's house any more. Not like we remember it. But it's bigger. Broader. More fruitful. It's full and still growing. Its family tree is branching out. 

That's how we got to where we are today. And it's how we keep growing into the future. It's how it's meant to be.

We are a family. The family of God. This is our family tree. This is how we grow it. 

Disciples making disciples making disciples. 

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