The worship-discipleship-mission cycle is the axis of the Christian life. In the circle of missional living we find the basic process Jesus used to train his disciples. Indeed, this circle is the foundation of the New Testament and a summary of the Great Commission. And today, as we face the statistical decline of the evangelical church, worship-discipleship-mission is the key to restoring the intent and purpose of our churches. If we want our worship heightened and our discipleship deepened, we must be on mission all the time. Please do not miss this! I truly believe that God is telling his church that we can recapture our purpose, our energy, and our focus when we go full circle with missional living.
Have you experienced the dynamic power the circle of missional living gives our lives? If so, then here is a crucial question: Why have we allowed these three elements to become divorced from each other, isolated and compartmentalized in the institutional church? Think about it. We define worship as that hour or so every week we spend at church in a worship service. Discipleship has been reduced to the number of video studies we’ve attended. And missions is sending someone else to a foreign country. As my friend Curt Watke has asked, “How many video Bible studies do you need before you will speak to your next door neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus?”
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.
You need milk, not solid food!
Hebrews 5:12, NIV
Worship leaders, what is Jesus’ primary calling to us? If Jesus’ highest calling to the church is to make disciples, is that not our calling too? Is that not the measuring stick for our ministries and our lives, and even our worship? The obvious answer to this question is, “Yes.” My ultimate calling as a worship leader is to make disciples for my Lord Jesus Christ. Because this is the church’s ultimate calling, this is also a worship leader’s ultimate calling.
Yet we struggle with this concept. Our traditional training has led us to believe that worship leaders only provide worship experiences. We leave discipleship to the pastor, education minister, or Bible-teaching organization of our church. Discipleship in the institutional church is too often only a training program for churchmanship. Our strategy for equipping good church members is to fill them with information and hope they become disciples. Then we define discipleship by how many church activities they attend. We have missed the point. Real discipleship is far more.
The Greek word for disciple is mathetes, which literally means “learner.” Discipleship is our ongoing human response of attitude and action to Christ’s revelation of the eternal God of the universe. That sounds like the definition of worship too, doesn’t it? The thesaurus equates a disciple to one who would be a “follower, believer, devotee, and student.” Webster’s dictionary defines disciple as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” And that sounds like the definition of a missionary. By definition, worship, discipleship, and mission overflow into each other.
But these secular definitions still miss the essence of Christian discipleship. Simply put, to become a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be totally transformed by him. Christian discipleship is not just behavior modification. True discipleship is more than information accumulation or conforming to a standard. Christian discipleship is nothing less than being totally transformed every day by God in Christ through the power of the Spirit. “He changes the fabric of people’s beings. He brings light to darkness. He brings death to life. He brings old to new. The transformation Jesus offers is radically different . . . Transformation is more than a surface-level alteration: it’s actually becoming something else entirely.”1
We are long overdue for our worship ministries to transform our churches by making disciples who make disciples! — Mark Powers
FOR A FREE GUIDEBOOK to show how you can start Discipleship Trios to disciple 81 people in two years e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Geiger, Transformational Discipleship, 9.