Edward F. Lundwall Jr.
The Disciples' Fellowship – Why?
To successfully practice discipleship, there must be a conviction! A conviction must be something that is a response to the commands of Christ. The best place to implement these commands (and therefore, “make disciples) is a small group of committed believers called “The Disciples’ Fellowship.”
The basic meaning of the word disciple is “a leaner who applies.” Sound laws of teaching have little or no influence on many local church ministries. Most Christians are simply sermons tasters only. Too much confidence is put into people’s public professions of faith. Lecture/preaching is used nearly exclusively, even though only 4 to 7% if what is heard is retained. Emulating New Testament practices are largely neglected as churches become enamored with their image and use of technology. Although the word “discipleship” may be a buzz word among fundamental and evangelical churches today, when one views the statistics of cultural and immoral conformity among the young, divorce rates and church hopping among older, and just plain dropout, as the 70% of single men fifty and older, one must question if developing committed growing believers (disciples) is really happening.
If discipleship is just a renaming of a refurbished religious education program, it will eventually be discarded because it is not New Testament discipleship and will fail just as the old religious education programs have. If discipleship is simply a fad it will be discarded when another fad becomes popular. If discipleship is labeled, as it is by some, “anti-evangelistic,” any teaching that seeks for personal commitment/conviction will be ignored as unimportant regardless of the churches customs, practices, attitudes, theology or polities. Without personal accountability and/or responsible commitment to motivate the professed Christians in or out of the pew to apply and practice the commands of Christ, no true discipleship occurs.
The practices of the early New Testament disciples and the fellowships they developed basically sought to answer two questions: What were God abiding commands? What was their best implementation in the lives and culture of the believers? As Francis Schafer put it, “How shall we then live?”
Related reading: The Obedience of Faith; Building a Disciple-Making Church; How to Build a Disciple-Making Church