Summary: The purpose of discipleship is to turn us from being served to server.
I want to begin this morning by briefly reviewing where we have been in this series "The Five Purposes of The Church. " We have already examined three purposes - worship, outreach, and fellowship. Today we are going to look at the purpose of discipleship and next week conclude with service or ministry.
The first Sunday we looked at worship and I suggested that the purpose of worship is "to personally experience God" in a variety of ways so that we become a better follower of God."
Then we looked at outreach and I suggested that purpose of outreach is "to help people come home to God" by taking the God of the church into the community.
Then last week we looked at fellowship and I suggested that the purpose of fellowship is "to enable us to live for God everywhere" we go so that others will be interested in following God, too.
A balanced and healthy ministry must include all three of these elements plus discipleship and service. But what is the purpose of discipleship? In fact, what is Discipleship? Discipleship is again one of those church terms that we use a lot but fail to sometimes clearly define.
There are many "things" in the church culture that speak of discipleship. There are discipleship groups. There are discipleship programs. There are discipleship churches - congregations that are built around discipling people. So it is a familiar term to us. But what is its purpose? Why is it important?
Our text for this morning is Luke 14:33. This verse is part of a statement by Jesus that we sometimes like to over look because Jesus says some very hard things. However, I believe that once we have a better understanding of what discipleship is what he says will make sense.
Once again in your bulletin is a copy of a chart from the book The Purpose Driven Church with the segment on discipleship highlighted. I want to look for a moment at this segment because it helps us understand the purpose of discipleship.
One of the first things we notice is that the task of discipleship is to edify. Now what does edify mean? Well, according to the Merriam-Webster thesaurus, edify means to better, enhance; elucidate; educate, instruct, teach. But to make better how; to enhance what; to elucidate, or make more clear, who; to educate in what; to instruct in what; to teach what? Christ and Christianity. A purpose of discipleship is to deepen our relationship with God by making the implications of this relationship more clearly to us.
Rick Warren has said that there are five areas of learning or measurements of maturity that are important for becoming disciples: knowledge, perspective, conviction, skills, and character. Now this list is a series in and of itself. But, let me offer a simple statement that helps us understand what discipleship is in these terms. Discipleship is gaining the knowledge of scripture, which changes one’s perspective, provides us with Biblical convictions, helps us develop the skills of a servant, and enables the Holy Spirit to transform our character into a Christ-like one. This is a functional definition of edify – it involves education, enhancement, and instruction.
Now, let’s look at the objective of discipleship – maturity. What does maturity mean?
Well, returning to our thesaurus, the word mature comes up in the search and it means: to age, develop, ripe, ripen, grow, or grow up. What are we to develop into? How are we to grow? What are we to grow up as? One word says it all! Jesus Christ! A part of the purpose of discipleship is for us to grow and develop into a person who is more and more like Jesus as the years go by.
Now, let’s look at the life component section of our chart. It says my walk. Now what on earth does that mean? You may be thinking, “I walk fine! I may have a kink in my knee but I walk just fine. In fact the other day, I . . .” Wait, wait! That’s not what I mean.
Walk refers to how you are living your life. It refers to the sum total of your behavior plus your choices plus your attitudes plus your priorities plus your beliefs. It is the sum total response of how you live your life.
And what that requires is what the next two columns are all about – principles to live by and a foundation for living. All of us, every person here this morning live by a set of principles. Now what are principles? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a principle as a general or fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption.
Everyone one of us has a set of principles that we live by. Every one of us holds a set of assumptions about what is right and what is wrong; what is true and what isn’t true.