Markers of a church planting movement #3: Subversive Discipleship (Transformation)

This is the third post in a series exploring the broad vision for our church plant in Seattle. If you want to know more about that project, check out my Church Plant category :-)  For the rest of this specific series, go here.

Subversive Discipleship (Transformation)

Dallas Willard calls discipleship the “great omission” from the Great Commission. Jesus called the Apostles to lives of disciple-making, which often becomes a secondary issue for modern churches. The tendency of some approaches to ministry is to focus on making “converts” to a set of beliefs, when Christ calls us to make disciples to Jesus himself! This sort of discipleship shapes us personally, but never separate from committed relationships in intentional community. As we are (personally) transformed into a deeper Christ-like-ness, we (communally) become a people who reflect God’s Kingdom to our neighborhoods and world. This way of life doesn’t come natural in a culture like ours. In fact, the path of discipleship is subversive, going against the grain of popular culture.

To be committed to a subversive way of life means that we are committed to experiencing the love of God in a personal way for the sake of the community. The life of the Kingdom of God transforms persons within the community of faith, yielding the virtues of the “fruit of the Spirit.” Discipleship is primarily about the kind of people we become and how that translates into the sorts of actions we express. Spiritual practices:

  • Prayer, meditation, bible study, lectio divina, simplicity, tithing, fasting, solitude, confession, worship, creative arts, rest, and service

A subversive community of discipleship has a different ethical grid than our culture does. Part of what it means to be a disciple is a commitment to follow the teachings of Jesus, and to allow the subversive nature of discipleship to expose the “empires” of the world and of popular culture for what they are; counterfeit realities. Empires are often oppressive nations, but can be any system, person, or thing that culture imposes on our imagination to keep us in bondage, limiting us from experiencing the fullness of kingdom of God (i.e. pornography, hyper-consumerism, racism, pride, hatred, abortion, etc.).

Knowing and following Jesus means his call to us is to:

  • love our enemies, pray for our persecutors, forgive, care for the poor, live as peacemakers, connect to God through intimate prayer, live in purity, go the extra mile, choose nonviolence, trust God’s provision, choose love over judgment, and pray to be used to bring the reign of God “on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 5-7)
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