Disenfranchised Disciple Makers

WaltzLostDreamsTake two equally gifted Disciple Makers, both with sincere intent and genuine faith.  Does the disciple maker with means make more disciples than the disciple maker without means?  Before answering that question, let me share a real life example.  As many of you know, my wife and I are missionaries in the Cloud Forest region of Ecuador.  This is a vast region of pocket communities, towns, and villages dispersed throughout the Andes Mountains. 

Getting to these regions to effectively bring the gospel where it is not known requires mobility.  As we no longer have a vehicle (long story), we rely on public transportation, bicycling, walking, etc.  When we do go out to visit people in these communities we depend on outside funding for transportation.  A faithful band of brothers and sisters are always ready to go out with or without us and disciple people.  But, without that funding, our mobility and impact is greatly restricted.  We are making disciples, many of them, but it’s because we have the means to do it.  The means, resources, and empowerment  enable us to do what we do.

My purpose here is not to get into a debate regarding creating sustainable disciple making movements.  I’ve written on that before. My purpose is to propose that that there exists among the church (the entire body of Christ), a large segment of disenfranchised disciple makers.  There are those who can afford to go about making disciples and those who are limited by their means.  There are those who are privileged to be able to be missional and speak at conferences, travel, write books, and still make disciples.  There are those who can not travel, do not have the opportunity to speak anywhere, and can not disseminate their insights to other disciple makers.  There are those who can take time off from their daily work to disciple others and those who can’t.  

If we were to consider this group, philosophically equal to any other marginalized or disenfranchised group, then what would be some possible solutions? 

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    1. Having just finished the excellent little book “marketplace christianity” by Robert Fraser, I think the answer to the question is that most of us (he suggests 97%) are called to live and work in the marketplace.
      The gifts and callings of God are very relevant and sorely needed IN THE MARKETPLACE.
      For most of us the ministry of discipling others (should) take place in the areas we work and live and earn our living. The means are there for all of us, I think we just need to see where our field of endeavour really is, rather than looking over the fence or thinking it needs to be in foreign countries, or “full time” vocational ministry.
      All we do, should be done as an act of worship to our God, thus flipping the burgers at MacDonalds can be just as much a ministry, if we see that our gifts and callings are to be utilized where ever we find ourselves.

    2. Hey Rob,

      Thanks for commenting. I get working in the marketplace, but it just doesn’t seem feasible. First, who’s actually aloud to proclaim the gospel message in the work place anymore? Second, it assumes that the market place workers are accessible. Often times their not. The market place has been cubicle-ized beyond any optimum environment for the transmission of the gospel. Finally, most marketplaces are commuted to. People “go” to work and then return to where they live.

      Discipling like Jesus did wasn’t divided into 3rds. 8 hours work / 8 hours living/ 8 hours sleeping. His disciples ate, worked, lived, slept, breathed discipleship 24/7 for three years.

      • That’s where Robert Fraser makes his case – in the cubicles of the business place. Firstly by living open, transparent lives of worship and service for God rather than the boss. Our actions speak much louder than words, once we show we care about what we do and how we do it, people notice. Our lives become a gospel message in and of themselves. Developing relationships then become opportunities to offer to pray for people as they face issues. I’m not talking about wasting the bosses time by brow-beating or evangelizing – I’m talking about being a Christ follower in action, really doing the WWJD thing that was a fad some years ago.
        As we take an interest in others rather than ourselves, spend time with them doing stuff, the conversation will naturally open up to what makes you so different. Remember, the word Christian was a label given to the Christ followers by others who observed their behaviour. If we are no different to the world, how can our good news (gospel) be any good? Yes, we need to eat, work, live, sleep and breathe this new life – 24×7 and as folk get that this is real, the love of God in us, then demonstrated in our love for our neighbour in the next cubicle, is going to lead people to Him.
        Then their hunger to get to know Him too will open all the discipleship opportunities you can handle. Our gathering in “church” is to equip and encourage us in our gifting and calling for the other 166 hours of the week. Sorry if I’m sounding a little zealous, I just think our vision of ministry and discipling needs expansion. Jesus lived life with the twelve, He showed how to live a life quite different from the holy men of the time, and reached out to those that society shunned. The more I read, the more I see God really cares about how we treat the poor, needy, disenfranchised members of our world. He has this huge desire to see ALL come to know Him.
        Most, will not come to our places of worship, will not even listen to what we have to say – until they see that we have the love of God visible towards them – often this means practical, getting into the trenches where the mess is. Then they need to see that we care about them, their growth and development into followers of Jesus – firstly modelled in our lives, and then in practical help and advice – using stories to make our points, just like He did. Must stop now, I try not to preach as talk is so cheap..

    3. in apology to Rob & Robert, the fruit of a lifetime passion or drive for the marketplace tends to be poor and widely debilitating of faith and family in Christ. Subjecting ourselves to market madness (including consumerism; keeping up with the Jones’, etc.) for the Gospel’s sake surely ranks among the greatest spiritual errors in practice over the last 2 centuries, nearly putting us to sleep in the Light as thousands of men & women called by God were refusing faith to leave their nets as many more just could not come to believe for the hypocrisy of wage slavery with self-dependent providers. The Good News of Christ ought not suffer by way of our double-speak?

      For our questions regarding means & markets, we have a written record of ideal example in Jesus Christ and His first followers. Remembering, these guys did not race around in chariots; tended to ride near the poverty line (by market standard). Yet their impact was not means-restricted because they remained God-directed. In the Kingdom of God, a remarkable efficiency takes hold of its citizens.

      This year, I’m also on bicycling and confident that the means (chosen by God) matches His purpose and goal in me for the duration. The Holy Spirit will be more unhindered with less in material expediency.

      • Marshall, I in no way wanted to belittle the huge fallout the marketplace has exacted on many if not most. Nor in any way suggest that I had this all sorted out. I have held senior executive positions and my family has indeed suffered. Also I have not always seen the fruit that Robert Fraser describes, however I would suggest that is more due to my poor walk and execution of loving others.
        Having said that, I would also point out that many folk in the marketplace feel like second class citizens of the kingdom due to the poor understanding the church has portrayed about what the ministry gifts are about. Most feel that the higher calling is some type of “full-time ministry” out of the marketplace.
        We have conveniently ignored Col 7:24 about remaining in the situation we were in after we are called to salvation. We are not saved to then withdraw from the world and bunker down in church. The failure is rather that the church has not supported, encouraged and equipped those doing battle in the marketplace.
        How do we help those that face the very real and enticing temptations you describe – I think it is time to re-focus. Plainly the western church is struggling to make an impact in the culture and marketplace during my watch – something needs to change.
        My greatly increased re-reading of the scriptures over the last five years has altered my view on many issues, as I have been challenged time again how many of my views, that I held to be gospel truth, were little more than cultural norms and not at all how my renewed reading of the Bible showed me.
        I do know we have the full power of the uncreated God within us, and he has a passionate desire to see all men and women everywhere come into a love relationship with Him.
        “marketplace christianity” is well worth the read (no royalties for me) as this man has grappled with and presents the issues and solutions much better than I can articulate on a blogg.

        • Rob,
          If by “Col 7:24”, you refer to I Corinthians 7:20, “each remaining in the calling [κλησει] to which he was called”, a man should know from what God has called him out, to now be, and that he may abide in that same calling. [with some apology to NIV translation, et.al.]
          Is God calling men & women to position themselves in the marketplace? (or within other modern/pagan temples?) A few at His calling will “leave their nets” to be carrying into the marketplace the Good News of Christ.
          Lest we somehow forget: our Lord’s calling upon any man is not co-dependent with this world’s system; should not be assumed as synonymous or synchronous with the sin-stained life a man was building & carrying before having his eyes opened to Jesus Christ; before he received his new birth in Christ.

    4. Miguel,

      I think this has to do with the concept of grace gifts. I think that it is quite possible that everything in my life could be seen as a gift of a gracious God: my family, my home, my employment. He gave me these gifts not just because of His grace toward me but because of His grace toward those who love Him (and who will love Him).

      This means that I have to seek to understand how what He’s given me should be allocated to the building up of the church. For example, if I have financial means, that is a gift of grace for the building up of the church, and I should be seeking His insight into how best to use the gift as intended.

      That may be some combination of supporting my family, showing hospitality, contributing toward the needs of other believers, and contributing toward missions. I will probably tend to prioritize my own needs unless I am among other believers who challenge my prioritization. Those believers are also gifts of grace.

      I this I know I am expanding the “gift lists” a bit. But consider this: we pray for power to heal the sick and raise the dead, yet do those of us with wealth consider sharing wealth with those who are taking care of the sick and raising the dead? Not to make ourselves feel better but as a wise and loving use of gifts we’ve been provided for a purpose?

      What if wealth is a form of power that God is providing in order to engage us in the advancement of His kingdom?

      Just thoughts at this point. My friends and I are pursuing where the Lord wants us to go in this area. I’m not sure where I’ll end up yet.

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