The following is from Bobby Harrington of discipleship.org
There is a national conversation about discipleship going on right now. In some circles it is the hot topic, with lots of convincing, inspiring, and good ideas. We believe God is at work in the midst this dialogue. Discipleship.org wants to pour gasoline on the fires that are being lit and the authentic practices that are being championed. We hope to serve as a centralizing platform for this conversation. We work with national discipleship leaders to catalyze authentic discipleship and disciple making movements.
Discipleship.org was co-founded by two men from Restoration Movement churches. Bobby Harrington has served for over 27 years in Restoration Movement churches and is currently the lead pastor at Harpeth Christian Church (in Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville), which he founded as a church plant over 17 years ago out of the Otter Creek church in Nashville. Todd Wilson is the founder and director of the Exponential Conference (the largest church planting conference in the world) and has also spent over ten years on staff at New Life Christian Church, just outside Washington, D.C. Bobby met and married Cindy over 35 years ago at Harding University and he has two grown children who trust and follow Jesus. Todd met his wife as he was training to be a nuclear engineer and he too has two children who trust and follow Jesus.
At discipleship.org, we believe that discipleship itself should not be the focus. Biblical discipleship is about Jesus Christ. Theologically, it is helping people to trust and form their lives around Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of the Father. More simply, it is helping people trust and follow Jesus. There is nothing more important or central in the Bible. We believe there is nothing more worthy of Jesus than discipleship. In fact, we believe that discipleship conversations will only have lasting impact when they result in a personal focus upon Jesus and our life in him.
At discipleship.org we also believe in and champion Jesus’ method of discipleship. This involves a focus on relationships, intentionality, God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, a journey or process, and multiplication (the elements of a discipleship lifestyle). Jesus’ method is the perfect method. It is based upon timeless principles and values. We want to uphold this specific path, but not get too narrow in our application. Too often discipleship is focused on a specific method or a narrow practice that may be good in one situation, but not in other cultural contexts or arenas.
So to be faithful to Jesus’ methods and to a focus that is specific enough to be meaningful, but broad enough to be flexible, we created a biblical and philosophical platform. In partnership with multiple national discipleship leaders (from Robert Coleman to Bill Hull to Jim Putman to Francis Chan and various others), we identified 10 discipleship affirmations. We hope all leaders who choose to work with us will agree with this foundation. We do not bind our definitions and phrases on others, but we ask that those who lead from our platforms be in step with and comfortable with the following:
- Jesus Christ and his worthiness necessitate discipleship – he is the central object of our faith and our salvation; He is supreme and deserving of all devotion, worship, and emulation, so discipleship is about Jesus. We affirm the Nicene Creed and its statements about Jesus and the Trinity (Col. 1:15-20; Gal.2: 20).
- Our definition of a disciple – is a person who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus (Matt. 4:19). This is by Grace through faith and is only possible by the Holy Spirit.
- Our definition of discipleship (and disciple making) is simple – helping people to trust and follow Jesus (Matt. 28:18–20).
- We believe disciple making is the core mission of the local church and the home (Col.1: 28-29; Deut. 6:6-9).
- We believe the Bible is the authoritative, reliable, and ultimate guide for discipleship and life (2 Tim. 3:16-4:2).
- We believe Jesus’ method of disciple making is the wisest and best method to follow today (Luke 6:40).
- We believe that Christ-like love is both the foundation and true fruit of authentic discipleship (John 13:34-35).
- We believe discipleship includes serving the poor, striving for holiness, and living with accountability in the local church (1 Cor. 5: 1-13).
- We believe discipleship and Christ-like love will compel us to join Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
- We believe our obedience to the Great Commission makes all the difference and it will result in the expansion of God’s Kingdom, the betterment of humanity, and God’s exaltation and pleasure in us (Luke 19:11-27).
Discipleship.org avoids the promotion of positions that do not come from these affirmations or are beyond them. We do not want secondary issues to become a focus through our ministry.
To help catalyze discipleship and disciple making movements in this early stage, we hope to develop three platforms in partnership with other national discipleship leaders and organizations:
- National Discipleship Forums – that bring together national leaders to inspire and provide leadership for a national and international discipleship movement (and Regional Discipleship Conversations). We had our first National Discipleship Forum in October 2014.
- Content – we hope Discipleship.org website can be an aggregator, repository, and link into the best possible electronic information and actionable content on discipleship and disciple making movements. And org Resources will be an imprint for books and hard content.
- Learning Communities – we want to bring people together to join learning journeys, where they sit together with practitioners who will help them develop disciple making competencies.
- Partnership with Exponential – we work with the Exponential Church Planting conference (the largest church planting conference in the world) to promote discipleship, especially by church planters.