Dying 2 Live...!

Dying 2 Live...!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

True Discipleship is...?

This is a pertinent interview with a good friend of mine from college, Damian L. Boyd. Damian is now the pastor of a budding church-plant (Vertical Church-Atlanta). But more than his position in ministry is his heart for God. In this candid interview, I sat down with him to prick his brain about the matter of true and Godly discipleship...

Lead pastor: Damian L. Boyd

Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church: 12 years associate/young adult pastoral experience

Vertical Church–Atlanta: 1 year lead pastoral experience and counting

Defining Disciple/Discipleship: (Mark) M (Pastor Damian) PD

M – “How is a disciple or discipleship defined?”

PD – “I think in the simplest of terms, a disciple is someone that is being spiritually mentored… Not just a mentor but a spiritual mentor, someone who is being brought under another person’s wing with the expressed purpose of teaching them Biblical principles, giving them the examples, showing them how to live the Christ-like life, ‘life-on-life.’ Jesus was the best discipler. He actually was phenomenal… His example was: He lived in the midst of people. He did what He did among people and then taught them and showed them along the way. Life was discipleship for Jesus. He showed them based on His life and He taught them out of what they experienced. I think sometimes we can call ourselves making disciples by just telling people a lot of information, give them information and they’re disciples, have them rememorize a bunch of Scripture and they’re disciples. But that’s not real Biblical discipleship because that doesn’t mean they know how to work it out in life. Truthfully, the Bible says, ‘knowledge puffs up,’ so people who just learn more aren’t necessarily disciples. They can become Pharisees if you’re not careful. But disciples are people that [have] you in their life, you’re living in the midst of them and you’re growing them with the expressed purpose of them looking more like Christ."

M – “In that case, what is your version of a discipleship model, or a metamodel that you utilize?”

PD – “Our discipleship process looks like this: Our strategy is "Be, Do, Learn, Show." (1) Be – meaning who I am, who I am on the inside. Where we get rid of pretense and all the things we try to put on to look religious, to look spiritual. ‘I am who I am by the grace of God’ so as I’m being, that is something people should learn from my example. 1 Peter 5 starts out with Peter exhorting the followers of Christ spread abroad, the Diaspora of the Christians out there. He actually taught them. He was teaching the elders to be an example. We hear Timothy being taught the same thing by Paul, ‘Be an example.’ That’s where it starts, if I’m not living anything of any worth, I can’t expect the people that follow me to live anything of any worth. (2) Do – okay, we need to do something with what we believe. It’s not enough for me to mentally ascend to what I believe of my faith; I have to actually do it. I have to live it out. I have to walk it out; I have to do good for others. I have to be an example; I have to love one another, all the ‘one anothers’ of Scripture. That’s doing, that’s the things we do. Doing is the works that we do; that follow the faith that we have, not trying to prove our worth or value to Christ, but because we are worthwhile and we are valued by Christ.

M – “So your do is not something done out of duty, religious form or for numbers?”

PD – “No, it’s an abiding love for Jesus Christ. ‘That’s why we do. We do because He’s already done!’ I’m more about ‘impact’ than I am size and look. I can careless about the size and look; I care much more about impact. I’ll take 50 people that are engaged to make a difference than 5,000 that are just content to sit and look at and listen to me. Then the other one (3) is to Learn – there’s a ‘serious’ learning component in discipleship. It’s that growing; it’s understanding Scripture, understanding Scriptural background [historical], [and] understanding the depths of the Scripture. We’ve just taken 12 people through 6 months of intense discipleship at my home, based on Acts. ‘They committed themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship and to the breaking of bread.’ And all those things come together for us... Discipleship is intense and it’s intentional but we do it in several different ways to learning. We want to make sure that we’re learning; we’re understanding more Scripture. The more we understand, the more we can live out. Then you have the last part (4) which is to Show – you aren’t a disciple if you’re not willing to show somebody else. Jesus spent 3 years pouring His heart into these guys so that they could show it to other people. It wasn’t just enough for them to have been with Jesus and learned, no, they had to show and model that out. Jesus didn’t just preach to His disciples; He lived in the midst of His disciples. And He expected them to go and live that out before everybody else. You look at the Great Commission, you know, ‘Now go ye therefore.’ Why? Because I’ve given you 3 years of My life, and then given you My literal life. So guess what? Now you go and you do that for others. You make disciples among others, everywhere. That’s your job. Live in the midst of people. Yes, teach them but also be who He’s called you to be; do the work I’ve told you to do, teach them so they would learn and then show them the way I’ve shown you. See, the disciples knew how to cast out demons and they knew how to multiply fish and bread and do miracles. Why? Because Jesus showed them how, He didn’t just tell them to do it, He showed them; He modeled, He was a model for them.

M – “What are the materials and methods used for discipleship?”

PD – “I’ll use what ever possible. (1) I’ll use life, and I use life lessons. One thing we do is we serve in the community. So intentionally what we do is we take people out. New Christians, people considering becoming Christians: we serve the community. So you’re going to see me live it out before you. You’ll be in my life; you’ll be in my midst as we’re working. Actually serving others is how you learn how to be a disciple. (2) To add to that, we read books. We do a thing called discipleship journey, that’s the 6 months where you are in our home once a week, once every two weeks. And I taught very slowly, very intentionally through Mark 6-12, this is the most densely compacted teaching on discipleship in Scripture. Jesus is modeling; He’s showing, He’s an example and what we do is we look through those Scriptures with a very intentional focus on: ‘How does this make me_______?’, ‘What does this say to me as a disciple of Jesus Christ?’, and ‘What does this say to me as someone that’s a disciple-maker?’ So we look through those lenses… (3) We also do training and development for people to help them figure out: Who they are, How they’re wired, and Why they’re wired the way they’re wired, so they can do the very thing God has for them to do, rather than just doing the thing our church needs for them to do. We’re in the business of helping people find the thing God has for them, and we want to empower them to do that [very thing]. So we give them training and development to help them find that unique calling.

M – “So it seems like you’re saying 'God is bigger than just the four walls of Vertical Church or someone else’s building.'”

PD – “The Bible says that we are the Church. You can go to Europe and in Europe you’ll see these big, immaculate, beautiful buildings that have been turned into dance clubs and bars. So often we see the building for church; that’s not the Church. The Church are the people who are mobilized to communicate the Gospel.

M – “From that discipleship standpoint, as it relates to Church or discipleship, how is success determined in the discipleship process?”

PD – “We determine success in a few ways: (1) We look at the impact of people’s lives, outside of the building… as a community of faith, we have an impact in the community... the community knows us, they value us, we are important to the community. Why? Because we serve the community, but we want the same thing happening in the individual lives of the people; we want our people to have such an impact that others in their community, whether on their jobs, in their neighborhoods, other people around them are being impacted. (2) I think sometimes we look for such quick results, but real discipleship takes time. Jesus spent 3 years getting guys ready. So real discipleship takes time and the effect of discipleship is how people are doing the Great Commission, not how many people can be gathered in one place.

M – “Last question, what advice would a 'just getting started ministry or minister' need if they’re going to actually start a church, implement a discipleship process, and [successfully] evangelize?”

PD – “I think so often, one problem with many Seminaries is many of these people are going to be starting churches in a few years. But the problem is often these [folks] aren’t given enough of the background on what it takes to lead a church. Just because you understand the Bible doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good pastor. You need to understand business if you’re going to plant a church. You need to understand marketing if you’re going to plant a church. You also have to understand the shepherding side; the soft skills of working with people, the soft skills of seeing somebody fail you or fail God, and them still being able to see you believe in them, in the long run. You need to understand some basics around family counseling… Why? Because real people in their real lives go through real struggle, I mean those are all different things you need to know. One other thing that you have to have is perseverance and endurance. Church-planting is tough; it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and there are so many variables that can’t be calculated. You have to have room and space for the unknown. If you're a person that every ‘i’ has to be dotted, every ‘t’ has to be crossed, this may not be the right thing for you. Why? Because there are ebbs and flows to church-planting, you have to be very flexible and there has to be room for some things to not go the way you want them, and it be okay. Here’s one thing I scream, there’s one book around church-planting that I encourage and it’s 'Church Unique.' I had a chance to sit down with the author not too long ago and get a chance to know him a little bit. Church Unique, the one thing it stresses that I love, that different form every other church-planting book, it helps you find who you are, to do what God wants you to do, in the area you need to make the impact. It’s a failure always to correctly exegete Scripture, and incorrectly exegete the culture that you are called to reach. That’s the key: You have to figure out who are, the job God has for you to do and the people that are where you’re needed. All 3 of those will help you decide the type of ministry you need to have… when you marry those pieces together, you’ll have a greater opportunity for success than you could've ever imagined.

(Pictured: Pastor Damian with his lovely wife Zarat)

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