Jazz is the music that has taught me the most about discipleship. Jazz is always played with at least two players and as many as 50 or 100. Jazz helps us understand discipleship because it is an expression of freedom and new possibilities. A typical performance begins with the band playing a familiar melody; each playing their distinct part. After two are three times through the song, one of the players begins to improvise on the melody. As he or she plays with the theme, each of the other members of the band play supporting chords. As each player takes a turn at improvisation, he or she is supported by the band. All this requires skilled and close listening to one another. This process of listening and mutual support sets each player free to play with the music and see where it can lead them. The goal is to allow the music to take them to new places and new possibilities. All the practice, discipline, listening, and mutual respect for the music and one another allows the musicians to get out of the way and allow the music to play them.In the waters of baptism God calls us into discipleship. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is very much like becoming a musician. Certainly, God does not give everyone the gift of making music. However, because we are all created in the image of God, we are all given the same gift: the capacity to give and receive love. The goal of discipleship is to develop this gift to its fullest capacity. Along the way our character, which has been damaged by sin, will be restored to wholeness into the image of Christ. As we grow and mature in loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves, love becomes a natural response and way of life in the world.
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This is simply an amazing article by Steven Manskar about making disciples. Finding the correct metaphor to describe a fluid organic process is difficult but I believe he did an excellent job. The improvisational quality of making disciples is difficult for immature believers or people who need a checklist to feel that they have accomplished their goals and tasks. To make disciples requires that a person knows what a mature believer (a disciple) actually looks like. It is hard to teach people how to be passionate about sharing their faith or having celebratory worship if you as the teacher has never experienced these characteristics of being a disciple.

My challenge for today…….pastors who are learning to lead others through the discipleship process, take a few field trips. Go to a house of worship that is passionate about celebratory worship or has great small groups. Find some people who are passionate about sharing their faith and shadow them. Go to a mission’s driven church and experience how they pursue justice for the voiceless, the left out and those who have been left behind.

Over a five year period with the Bethany Project I experienced many of these traits in various churches. I am reading through my journals from those years and I intriged by some of my reflections.

Rancho Bernardo Presbyterian Community Church was on of the high impact churches that I experienced. Their small groups were multiplying and do “mini” mission projects which had a major impact on the community. The pastor shared with us the need to have trained and qualified individuals in key leadership positions. Trained, experienced and prepared lay leadership make a church way more effective that 2-3 staff people. The reason that I remember this process is because he insisted that this was an opportunity to disciple people who would not necessarily attend a “discipleship class”. Wayne Cordero echoed this disciple making tip. By the Way, New Hope Christian Fellowship is possibly the most dynamic church in the USA when it comes to sharing the gospel with unchurched non believers.

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