Discipleship in the 21st Century

The digital explosion has changed the world forever. There are now about 2.3 billion people who have access to the internet and over 800 million people who are on Facebook. There are countless gadgets and devices now on the market that 15 years ago would have sounded silly. Even something like a blog (weblog) would have sounded like a strange concept back in the 90’s.

It’s amazing how the internet has shrunk the globe. It never ceases to amaze me the people who find their way onto this blog. In just the last week alone, there were visitors from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Brazil, Poland, Iceland, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, and Ghana, in addition to North America. Obviously, the internet has been used for a lot of very bad things, but God has also used this tool for the furtherance of the gospel.

Let me give you an example of redeeming technology for the purpose of discipleship. Recently, a good friend of mine by the name of James had an idea. He wanted to be able to study the bible together with some brothers in Christ, one of them being yours truly. The problem is that James lives in Calgary, I’m in Ohio, and our friend Bruce is in Vancouver. James’ solution to this problem was to open a blog and download the Psalms onto the blog. Our plan is (we are just getting started) to read the Psalms together, comment on what we are learning, and sharpen one another in the Lord (Proverbs 27:17). This is a really simple idea, but it can be effective. Any time Christians use technology to draw them into the Word of God, it’s a good thing.

Just so you know, I am not in favor of the growing digital church (multi-site) movement. If you are not part of a church, then join a solid, Bible-believing, gospel-centered church. It’s great to have brothers and sisters around the world in Christ, but these  types of relationships should never substitute for involvement in a local church. The Bible tells us, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

There are all kinds of ways the digital explosion is being used to spread gospel truth around the globe. I praise God for that and I pray that the people of God would continue to find creative ways to practice discipleship. Whatever the medium, the bottom line is this – we must sit at the feet of our Master (Luke 10:39) and listen to His teaching and be empowered by His grace (Titus 2:11-14).

Understanding Church Membership

  1. Church members are Christians.
  2. Church members help other members persevere in the faith. “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
  3. Church members help each other be fruitful. “And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)
  4. Church members meet together regularly. “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
  5. Church members obey and submit to particular leaders. “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” (Hebrews 13:17a)
  6. Church leaders keep watch over church members. “for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” (Hebrews 13:17b)
  7. Church members know each other. “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
  8. Church members don’t allow sin to consume one another. (James 5:19-20)
  9. Church members protect the purity of the church’s witness. “Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:2)
  10. Church membership gives us opportunity to assure our salvation. “We know that we have passed from death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3:14)

Adapted from a lecture by Garrett Kell on February 15, 2012. This lecture was presented at a “9 Marks of a Healthy Church” conference hosted by Cedarville University.