Apostolic Christianity Pt. 3
It’s been a few days since my last post on this topic, the weekend got crazy. But now, by the grace of God, I have the time, wifi, and patience to write another one!
Alan Hirsch (the guy pictured above) is an incredibly wise man in the area of discipleship. He is part of Verge Network, along with other popular authors/pastors like Francis Chan and David Platt. (I strongly encourage you all to check out their website)
Anyways, Alan Hirsch has countless video blurbs of discipleship and its relation to the church today. He stresses two points:
- The difference between a church of disciples and a church of consumers
- The importance of the Five-Fold Church in relation to strong, missional churches
Consumerism vs. Discipleship
The church is backwards. It’s full of consumers rather than disciples.
“You cannot build a church on consumers. They will desert you at a moment’s notice because they have no commitments beyond their own needs.” -Alan Hirsch
How true is that?
So many churchgoers choose their church based on the style and volume of worship, the pastor’s haircut, the demographic of the congregation, the location, how wealthy/poor it is, etc… And as soon as something changes, they are displeased and go somewhere else.
The Church, just like Christ, should be a commitment.
And the Church, just like Christ, should build disciples.
“If we don’t disciple, the culture sure will.” -Alan Hirsch
Our culture thrives on consumerism, it’s become the “alternative religion of our day.” It has taught us to become selfish, shallow, and lazy. Why work hard for something genuine when you can easily buy a superficial substitution?
WE ARE CALLED TO BE SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD!
We should strive for more than what the earth settles for.
Jesus was able to change the world through His twelve disciples plus the other seventy-two. The church would not exist if they were consumers.
We are called to “go out and make disciples of all nations” and to “teach them to obey everything [Christ] has commanded [us].” -Matthew 28:19-20
To the Hebrews, worship meant obedience. And obedience meant becoming like Christ through discipleship.
The early church had three stages of discipleship.
- Becoming a disciple. When first called to the faith, new believers would go through a season called catechesis. It is an intense time of teaching and training in the content of faith and, as you can imagine, a huge commitment.
- Being discipled by others. After building knowledge of the faith, disciples would then be committed into an intentional community and be discipled by a discipler.
- Making disciples. They then took on the role of disciplers and mentored, encouraged, and taught new believers who were learning to follow Christ.
The early church knew how to do it.
Apostolic christianity stresses the importance of discipleship. And without disciples, the five-fold ministry would fall apart.
The Five-Fold Church
In Ephesians 4, Paul writes about more gifts of the Spirit.
“It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (vv. 11-13)
And that is the Five-Fold Church. Instead of one pastor leading an entire congregation, there is one apostle, one prophet, one evangelist, one pastor, and one teacher leading a congregation, each as according to their giftings by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit appoints these gifts to build up disciples and to raise up the church.
God designed the church to be a movement.
We are the church and Christ is the Five-Fold. He is the greatest apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher to ever walk this earth. So why not base our ministries after His?
Discipleship is not something that should be taken lightly. Christ said:
“‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes even his own life-he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” -Luke 13:26-27
Becoming a true disciple rather than a church goer is a huge commitment, and Jesus encourages us to count the cost before fully following Him. If we are not willing to give up everything we have, we cannot be a disciple.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”-Luke 10:2-4