Discipleship Systems in Oz
Just as the faith communities in Oz are very diverse, so are the discipleship systems. It will take five weeks to look at the four major types. To help us to better explain this back in Kansas, I think it=s more useful to consider four priorities that it seems to me that they all share.
Priority #1: Jesus is Lord.
What does it mean for Jesus to be Lord?
Lordship leads to prayer which leads to goals which lead to action.
The Lord Jesus Christ clearly informs us in the Bible how we are to be obedient.
Goals are clear, specific, measurable and written. Goals are behavioral and therefore visual; actions can be seen. (Behavioral goals show behavior that a camera would see.)
Priority #2: Evangelism or Working in Prevenient Grace.
Matthew 28:19: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . .
If Jesus is Lord, then the Great Commission is to be obeyed. These churches do not believe in limits to growth, but rather believe as Jesus said: The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Luke 10:2). The harvest is ready; what is lacking are the laborers. Every member in a cell church, without exception, is expected to be directly involved in the making of new disciples and is fully supported in that task by the church=s organizational structure. Every program of the church is subordinated to the goal of making disciples.
One cannot be like Jesus without making disciples. The making of disciples cannot be delegated to institutions, clergy or others who are evangelistically gifted. The goal is generations of disciples making disciples making disciples (2 Timothy 2:2).
Priority #3: Leadership or Working in Sanctifying Grace.
Matthew 28:20: . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
In a discipleship system, converts learn behavior obedient to the
commands of Christ, including the command to make disciples. The progress of
individuals through each of the steps in the process can be measured. The
process used to develop spiritually mature leaders for these churches is often
called an Aequipping track.@ Wesley=s goal of Agoing on to perfection@ is measured by our becoming fully
observant disciples of Jesus Christ.
Priority #4: Cells
Matthew 18:20: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
The small faith communities of Oz are called Acells.@
Cells are the preferred and primary means of making disciples in this type of church; they will not work unless the prior three priorities are in place. Institutions are not as effective; programs are not as effective. Joel Comiskey defines a cell church as A>a church that has placed evangelistic small groups at the core of its ministry=. The word >evangelistic= is crucial to this definition.@ They are more than just the means to form a worshiping congregation.
Cell groups are like spiritual nuclear families. They learn together, work together and love one another. Spiritual parents help spiritual children grow up to have their own children, and they are supported by their extended families in a spiritual network.
Laity who serve as spiritual parents vastly increase the
competence of a local church to care for disciples. Often only pastors
spiritually parent, which creates abandonment issues when there is a pastoral
change. These abandonment issues are a major problem in conflicted churches.
Joel Comiskey, quoted by Steve Cordle, Church In Many Houses: Reaching Your Community Through Cell-Based Ministry (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005), 22. Steve Cordle is pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church, http://www.crossroadsumc.org, whom we will meet in a later unit of this course.