It Takes A Whole Church To Raise A Disciple


Belonging by Nick Veitch on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

I have in recent days featured two posts by J R Woodward. Here is a third, Discipleship and the Four Spaces of Belonging. He talks about how the whole church needs to lead by example for people to be discipled, and for Christians to grow in missional focus. He also delineates four ‘spaces’ where discipleship can happen:

* public space – a large gathering of similarly-minded people, such as a big church event;
social space – a community of ‘extended family’ and networked relationships, say, about 20-40 people in size, like ancient Roman households, which were the building blocks of their society (and like the size of some contemporary churches?);
personal space – private relationships of eight to fifteen people, like a home group;
intimate space – with our closest friends and family who know us well, and with whom we do not need to be ashamed.

Woodward asks us how well we operate within all four spaces to develop misson-focussed disciples. He suggests that some churches only concentrate on one or two of these, when we would do better to have all four in mind.

What do you think?


2 thoughts on “It Takes A Whole Church To Raise A Disciple

  1. In Methodist terms, form the smallest upwards, Band, Class, Society, Connexion. Maybe we need to reinvent the first two?

  2. I’ve scanned Woodward’s article, and I’ll read it in more detail after bit, so maybe this will change by the time I’m done. However, I just don’t see this as biblical discipleship (or mentorship, for that matter). It doesn’t take a breakdown of different places with different people. Discipleship takes one man (or woman) leading a few men (or women, respectively). This idea that the entire church disciples people is not, in my understanding, biblical or practical. This is how our fellow ministers get away with saying they mentor because they preach. Again, not the biblical model. Paul had Timothy and Titus, John had Polycarp, Jesus had the 12, John the Baptist had two. Elijah had Elisha. No where is a church proper part of the concept.

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