The more I dwell on my experiences recently, in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, the more I’m seeing missional living as the connecting pattern, but not simply across Asia: with ourselves, here in the UK also. Discipleship is, in my probably not so humble opinion, our biggest current issue in the UK Church.
‘How then shall we live?’ It strikes me, if we cannot answer this question in a way, which:
- Expresses our response to Jesus’ call ‘follow me’.
- Engages with the people who share our environment (19 out of 20 not yet Christians in the UK).
- Authentically distinguishes as followers of He who is the way, the truth and the life.
So here’s something of what I noticed:
For missionaries: The fundamental issue is more a concern with how they live than with what they say. In many countries overseas, we cannot legally send ‘missionaries’ who openly call others to repentance and faith in Jesus. What no one can prevent, however, is ‘missionaries’ who don't appear to work for the Church, but who do live for Jesus.
For growth: In Nepal, Bangladesh and India the Church is growing – in some areas fast. The issue everyone always raises is an old chestnut: ‘what’s the point if the Church grows significantly numerically, but is only an inch deep?’ Well, it strikes me Jesus provides the answer in Luke 10. If Jesus propels illiterate, recent Christians out into his world, it strikes me he thinks depth doesn't just happen, but does need to start somewhere.
I’m personally left in no doubt, the depth of discipleship is a very definite concern for many people involved in some of the rapidly multiplying church planting movements. Where Christianity is being caught more than it is taught (if it ever happens very much any other way anyway) “it totally depends upon the Christlikeness of the planters”.