We’re discussing Scot McKnight’s latest book Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church.
Scot next urges us to an ever-deepening discipleship (which he doesn’t quite define). He urges three practices:
* First, preach from the entire Bible, not just a few pet passages. He recommends the use of a lectionary — a word unfamiliar to us in the Churches of Christ, but the practice is quite ancient — going back to at least the Third Century AD among Christians. And we have thousands of manuscripts of ancient lectionaries.
The idea is to provide an organized listing of scriptures for a church to follow over a course of three or so years so that the entire Bible is covered in the church’s teaching ministry.
This is a common practice in many denominations, but utterly foreign to Churches of Christ, but for no obvious doctrinal reason. In fact, as proud as we are of being into the Word, it seems a very natural fit.
* Second, he encourages daily Bible reading according to a plan that covers the entirety of scripture — which is very Church of Christ. And while he is not opposed to Lectio Divina, but really just wants us to learn the truth in the text.
Amen. Meditating on texts we don’t really understand seems to me less than healthy. Of such practices denominations and divisions and heresies are made.
* Third, don’t settle for learning a denominational creed — even the great creeds of Christendom — or a “statement of beliefs” — because these are rarely taught or understood in terms of the Bible’s story. Rather, our creeds and belief statements routinely abstract certain theological propositions separate from what God has done and is doing.
Therefore, catechism class or whatever training is routinely required of new members must include the narrative of scripture — God’s story and how we as individual Christians and the church fit into it.
Just as it’s important — essential — to define “kingdom,” so must we also define “disciple.” And few authors and theologians do. Rather, the tendency is to just assume that it means what I need it to mean for purposes of a given lesson.
I get frustrated in church meetings when someone declares, “We need to make disciples!” but can’t define “disciples.” Yes, we should do exactly that, but do you mean that we should make converts? Educate our members on the scriptures? Get a higher level of commitment out of our members? Get our members to volunteer for our programs? Heck, some churches use “disciple” to mean “follower of a cult leader”! So it’s an empty, even dangerous, term unless we bother to define it.
Here’s the answer: a “disciple” is someone who follows a rabbi to learn what he teaches and — much more importantly — become just like the rabbi. That’s the definition.
If the church leaders wish to teach “discipleship,” then they need to find a way for their members to become more like Jesus. And all the things Scot mentions are EXCELLENT means of doing so — so long as we consciously intend and work toward becoming like Jesus.
Which begs the question: What would we be like if we became like Jesus? But we’ve covered that one many, many times.