In our last blog post we looked at how as a church we are taking seriously Jesus command to “make disciples” and so we have defined our mission as a church as
“ENABLING PEOPLE TO BECOME LIFELONG FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE GOOD OF THE WORLD”
I think that is a great mission for us as a church to be committed to, it captures well the central calling Jesus gave to us as His people. However, if its going to be anything more than a fine sounding statement printed on a few booklets and posted on line, it begs a question. What exactly is a “lifelong follower of Jesus?” Unless we can answer that question we wont have clue how we can enable people to become a “lifelong follower of Jesus”
After looking at all the New Testament material on discipleship this is the definition that we have come up with, this what a member of Westlake should be committed to.
“A lifelong follower of Jesus is someone who believes in Christ and is committed to belonging to Christ’s Body, becoming more like Christ and building God’s Kingdom.”
We are using this graphic to help us visualize this
- BELIEVING IN CHRIST
- BECOMING LIKE CHRIST
- BELONGING TO CHRIST’S BODY
- BUILDING GOD’S KINGDOM
Let’s unpack that a bit, here are our core beliefs about discipleship about what we believe Westlake members should be doing and becoming :
- BELIEVING IN CHRIST (Evangelism)
We believe the most important decision in life is making Jesus our Saviour and Lord, the forgiver of our past and the leader we follow in every part of our life in the present. This about a personal relationship of trust, love and hope with Jesus, a life which Jesus described as “life to the full” It is a new life in which our past is forgiven, we have a purpose in the present and hope for eternity.
“But these are written that you may believe[ that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31
“The question is not whether or not we will be working to spread the gospel around the world, but what role we will play in this.” ― Francis Chan,
- BECOMING LIKE CHRIST (Spiritual Growth)
We believe that following Jesus means shifting the focus of our lives from being centred on ourselves to being centred on Jesus and other people. It’s a life in which we are increasingly becoming more like Jesus. Love is fundamental to becoming more like Jesus and so we are committed to relying on the Holy Spirit to help us love the people Jesus would have loved and do the things He would do if He were living our lives.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” Matthew 16: 24
“Being a disciple of Jesus means that we are being transformed into His image. God wants to change us so much that it intrigues others.” ― Francis Chan
- BELONGING TO CHRIST’S BODY (Community)
We believe that the Christian life is best lived when we belong together with other people in a community. We therefore encourage people to get connected with others in groups of various sizes where we can experience deep, meaningful, loving and supportive relationships that help us handle us life better and mature as followers of Jesus.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12: 4-5
“Your problems are not just your problems—ultimately, they belong to the church body that God has placed you in. You are called to encourage, challenge, and help the other Christians in your life, and they are called to do the same for you.” ― Francis Chan,
- BUILDING THE KINGDOM (Mission)
We believe that a vital dimension to following Jesus is being committed to joining Jesus in his mission, the focus of which he called the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God brings God’s future into the present and so brings transformation into people’s lives, communities and our world. This is about realising we are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet in serving people, our communities and world. We believe Jesus sends us into the world, in the power of the Spirit, to build God’s Kingdom by embodying and expressing it through who we are and what we do as individual disciples and as a Christian community.
“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:21-22
“Christ sends us into the world to serve. For he came to serve. Not just to seek and to save, not just to preach, but more generally to serve… Now he tells us that as the Father sent him into the world, so he sends us. Our mission, like his, is to be one of service” John Stott
“Jesus gave himself in selfless service for others, and his service took a wide variety of forms according to men’s needs. He served in deed as well as in word, and it would be impossible in the ministry of Jesus to separate his works from his word. He supplies us with the perfect model of service.” John Stott
So now we understand what exactly a lifelong follower of Jesus is, what they will be committed to, we need to think about how we as a church enable people to grow and serve in these areas of discipleship. That is for our next blog post