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Discipleship – Teaching Then Doing, or Teaching While Doing?

mentoringMost modern-day discipleship follows the pattern of teaching then doing.  Jesus pattern seemed to be teaching while doing.  Does the difference between these two necessitate a change for the church?  There an old adage that goes like this:

 

1.  I teach, you watch.

2. I teach, you help.

3. You do, I help.

4. You do, I watch.

To those, and because we’re talking about discipleship (the making of disciples who make disciples) I’ll add a 5th

5.  You teach.

Across the world today Pastors will preach from pulpits and teach on many subjects with applications to be carried into “normal” life throughout the week until the next set of instructions may be given.  Again, does this pattern necessitate a change for the church if we’re going to take discipleship seriously?

Finally, and to complicate matters further, what if teaching was doing?  

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    1. Tim Day February 3, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      In the gospels, Jesus seemed to have this way of sending disciples out to do “impossible” things. Somehow He filled them with the courage to just go and try doing what He taught. When they returned, He’d use their successes and failures as part of the follow-on teaching. I want that courage.

      Where I’m at right now, I think I just need to get together with the other believers around me and set out to do small things that demonstrate the good news. I think we are discipling one another in that process.

      We’re also including our children in our activities, so we are discipling them as well.

      The next steps are not clear to me yet – except I know we’ll be pushed outward more and more.

    2. Marshall February 3, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      in “making learners/disciples in all the nations”, there will be many ideal moments to be passing to the “disciple” tools, or instructions, or experience, or correction, or… Not possible to reduce the learning in Christ to a method or syllabus, as each learner will advance in some ways unlike the advancement of another. (this includes all 12 of the Disciples with Jesus.) So then, to be effective in helping to train others one must also remain an active participant with the training. After hundreds of years, we’re still waiting to see a veritable example in how this can be accomplished from a pulpit.

    3. Dennis Hesselbarth February 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      A clear understanding of what “teaching” encompasses is a necessary start. We westerners immediately think of information transmission – a teacher speaks in front, the students sit passively and take it all in. We all know, intellectually, that ancient middle eastern cultures didn’t major in that kind of teaching. Deut. 6, explaining along the way, which would include what we’d term “teachable moments”, is closer to what teaching meant in the day. So your progression, I teach you watch, I teach your help, and so on, is much closer to what I suspect Jesus meant by teaching.

      Yet, Jesus didn’t command us to teach in Matthew 28, he commanded us to “teach to obey.” That’s very different. Much more is involved in working out obedience in our lives than merely intellectual comprehension. We have to address heart issues – our fears, our reluctance – as well as face our lack of skills and so on. So even the progression of I teach, you watch, and so on needs to be understood as addressing the heart issues. That means questioning, dialog, confession, prayer, practice, feedback – all those elements come into play.

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