I’m thinking so much these days about the differences between “knowledge-based discipleship” and “obedience-based discipleship.” I feel like my entire Christian life, I’ve practiced knowledge-based. Discipleship has been a program, a 6-week or 24-week or X-week or X-month protocol of lessons, which we attempt to master. Once we “get” the current lesson we move on to the next one. But we don’t stop and make sure we’re obeying as we go along. I can’t tell you how many Bible studies I’ve done where I’ve come up with “applications” that I’ve never followed through on. No one has ever asked me whether I’ve actually done what I said I’d do as a result of my study in the Word. And I have rarely asked anyone involved whether they really did what they “promised” to do after hearing from God. We just move on to the next lesson. And once we’ve gone through the whole batch-however many there are, we’ve “made disciples.”
It’s no wonder we’re such a powerless church. God shows us what to do, we say we’re going to do it – and we simply don’t.
The obedience-based approach is dramatically different. It is generally done through Discovery Bible Studies (DBS), is modeled a lot like the Storying we did with our neighbors during the pandemic after Simply The Story training. There’s an app on our smartphones (IOS or Android) called “Waha.” It systematizes the DBS process and makes it accessible to anyone with a phone (which is pretty much everyone these days). I’m planning to try it out here for sure, but also at home as well. People who use this method of discipleship are seeing crazy results. I don’t care about the numbers, but I want to be obedient to Jesus’ last command. I was challenged by the question: Read Matthew 28:16–20. Now write out how you’re accomplishing that last command. What??? What do you mean, “How am I accomplishing that?” Jesus said to go and make disciples. Not get conversions. Not have people say the “sinner’s prayer” (which actually isn’t anywhere in the Bible!). When I look back over the last 50 years of my life, I can’t point to but a handful of guys I’ve participated in seeing become disciples who make disciples who make disciples. It’s a dismal record! I want the rest of my life to be about fulfilling that last command – no matter where we live!
Here’s the obedience part of the Obedience-Based approach; During the DBS meetings, one of the questions is, “If this [word or story] is true, what change do you think God wants you to make in your life? Then you tell the others in the group what it is and when you next meet, if you haven’t obeyed, you just don’t move to the next story! You go through it again (and again and again if need be) until everyone in the group has actually been obedient to the Word’s work in their lives! It’s simple, but most importantly, it is reproducible, living out 2 Timothy 2:2 You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
If you’ve read all the way to the end of this post, it begs the question . . .After reading Matthew 28:16-20, How are YOU obeying Jesus’ last commandment and accomplishing the Great Commission?
I’d love to hear your thougts!