The Radical Call of Discipleship
Summary of the 2023 Fiscal Support Team (FST) Retreat teaching by Kyle McCallum, edited by Alex Herbers.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8.
Our church is changing, but change isn't new. The fellowship God has built here in Northeast Ohio has changed a lot in the 13 years I've known it, and even more in the 30+ years some have been here. Among the changes, our largest age group has shifted from college-aged to young professional and family age.
First things put rightly first at the FST, Kyle McCallum taught on Biblical discipleship. The following is a summary of that teaching.
God loves each person intimately and deeply. Looking at Jesus and the first-century church, we see in scripture and history some ideas on how to do that. Our church is centered around discipleship, and that will never change. That’s why we have Fellowship Groups in our church, and not just one central meeting.
Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18b-20)
Jesus didn’t say “make converts” or even “make true believers,” but “make disciples.” Coming to Christ by accepting His gift of forgiveness is just the first step in a radical, purposeful, rewarding, and–yes–demanding life of following God.
WHAT IS DISCIPLESHIP?
Discipleship is a rewarding work. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ... Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42, 46-47)
The thrill in the early church wasn’t the big show or the programming offered by the church–it was disciples of Christ multiplying, watching their lives change, seeing the lives of others change. Faith in Jesus is than a comfort to the heart; it’s the fruitful and life-giving way.
But discipleship is a demanding call. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
A realistic picture of discipleship with God and other believers is a lifelong journey full of awe-inspiring ups and soul-crushing downs, built on the fact that, in God’s kingdom, there will be a time when, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
"They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42, 46-47).
We’re not here on earth to waste time. The biggest danger as disciples of Christ is to get entangled by the present world; to let the lesser things take priority over the greater things. The more we abandon and surrender to God, the more we understand it’s worth it.
We are here on this earth to become more Christlike. You (yes, you!) are uniquely gifted to serve and build up the body of Christ that is the fellowship of believers.
Why are you here? To find your place in the body of Christ and your unique way to contribute.
THE GOAL OF DISCIPLESHIP
The goal of discipleship is outlined in Colossians 1:28: “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”
We want to increase our knowledge of God (equipping), becoming Christlike (character) and doing His will (loving). So our church will continue to focus on and find new ways to excel in discipleship. Here’s a set of guidelines for the type of one-on-one discipleship relationship we believe God promotes:
• Set the right expectations: Discipleship takes time.
• Grace and forgiveness should characterize our discipleship.
• Choose carefully who you disciple.
• Prioritize that relationship: Share your world with each other.
• Teach! Biblical discipleship is about equipping.
• Pray! Prayer makes discipleship work. As we grow older and learn to relate to God more deeply, our prayers look different.
As 1 Corinthians 12:31 says, “Now, eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”
So sit, relax, and listen to the Lord, for he wants to use your gifts - and those of our whole fellowship - in “a still more excellent way.”