What Does It Mean To Be A Disciple Of Christ

What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ blog postBy Andrew Hale

Disciple of Christ. As a Christian, such a title should be your driving ambition. Disciple—μαθητής in Greek—appears 269 times in the New Testament. This word always refers to followers of a particular leader, most commonly Christ. First century disciples were obvious. They would sacrifice everything to follow their master and learn his ways. Pharisees had disciples. Trade workers had disciples. Jesus had disciples.

In our modern vernacular, a disciple would be similar to an intern. He would follow his master with the intent to one day become just like him. The disciples of Christ desired to learn His teachings and His way in order to become like Him—and ultimately to train others to be like Him. First century disciples could be clearly identified, but modern-day disciples may no be so easily spotted. Even still our goal is the same—look like Christ and teach others to look like Him.

Defining the marks of a modern-day disciple can be difficult. We fill our schedules with Bible studies, prayer lists, accountability conversations, and church attendance, but have we really become better disciples? This discussion should be a lengthy one for all Christians to consider, but today we will start with the basics. A disciple of Christ is about being, knowing, and doing life like Christ.

Being – Is you mind Gospel-oriented? Examine your thoughts and motivations. Being like Christ transforms the way you think about your friends, family, and enemies. You relate to coworkers, neighbors, and strangers with an eternal mindset. Jesus was very intentional about every word He spoke and every contact He made. His disciples will carefully inspect their intentions as well.

Knowing – Christ left His disciples with the command to teach others to observe all things He had taught them. (Matt. 28:20) We should consume His word and commands—which is a lifelong journey. The more we know Him, the more we will want to know Him. Studying the Scriptures through church services, Bible studies, discipleship books, daily devotionals, formal training, and other methods can help us know Him better. We should constantly evaluate how well we know Him and how we can know Him better.

Doing – What did you do today that will impact eternity forever? Too often Christians spend the bulk of their time and energy on projects that won’t matter next week, let alone for eternity. God has made us stewards over the time and ability He gave us. As disciples of Christ, we must assess all that we do to ensure we are bringing Him the most glory.

Bible studies, prayer lists, accountability conversations, church attendance, and a ton of other programs can help a disciple start being, knowing, and doing. However, our schedules will be overwhelmed and distracted when these programs act as a substitute to being, knowing, and doing, Take some time this week and consider whether your current journey of discipleship is leading you toward being, knowing, and doing. If not, make some changes! More than likely your discipleship journey focuses on one facet more than the other two—being, knowing, OR doing. Ensure that you journey of growing as a disciple of Christ is balanced, intentional, and focused.

Additional Readings

Gospel Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson

Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples by Francis Chan

Follow Me: A Call to Die by David Platt

Andrew Hale currently serves as Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at Turning Point at Calvary in St. Augustine, FL. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Doctor of Ministry degree program. You can connect with Andrew on both Twitter and Facebook.

Bursting The Bubble Of The Christian Sub-Culture

bubble-burstingBy: Mark Etheridge

When you walk into a Christian bookstore, you’ve probably noticed all of the “Christian” merchandise the store offers. Perhaps you were even surprised at what all they did offer. As you make your way up and down the aisles, you will notice a variety of t-shirts, CDs, books, bumper stickers, or even some “testamints.” It’s really the Christian hub for any good Christian who wants to separate himself from the world and demonstrate to his lost friends that he is a “real” or “sold out” follower of Christ. Or is it?

Many of the things I’ve listed above contribute to what is termed the “Christian Subculture.” While these things are not inherently bad, I often wonder what kind of witness they are to the outside world. I would even argue that many of these things are attractive only to Christians, and confusing or even repelling to others regarding what it means to be a follower of Christ. Let’s be honest: The Christian subculture is a bubble. And Jesus calls those who follow Him to live among those in the culture, not to create a subculture to protect ourselves from the outside world. One area the church must fight against this sub-culture mindset the strongest is its ministry to students. Here’s a few practical ways to fight against the current of the Christian sub-culture in your student ministry:

  1. Do What is Best, As Opposed to What Will Keep You Busy

We often mistake busyness for godliness. However, this is rarely an accurate assessment. We have become great at keeping our student ministries busy in hopes that it will “keep them away from the world.” Yet, this philosophy focuses on the external actions, as opposed to the internal desires of the heart. This strategy also neglects the command of Jesus to “Go” (Matt. 28:19). A student’s heart will not be changed just because he attended every youth event the church hosted this year. Instead of simply trying to make our students busy, we need to focus on the best way to teach our students the gospel, and how they can in turn live out the gospel in their sphere of influence outside of the church.

  1. Equipping Students to be on Mission

Another danger of the Christian subculture is the focus upon simply keeping students “safe” and doesn’t actually teach them to engage the world with the gospel. If a student in our ministry knows Christ personally, he has the ability to share this message with others. Instead we often short change our students by simply taking them to Christian concerts, taking them to the latest Christian movie, or hosting fun events at the church. Now I’m not opposed to any of the examples just listed, but if that’s all we’re doing, we are doing our students a huge disservice. How tragic it would be for a student to come through our ministry and never engage in the mission of Jesus? Challenge your students by teaching them, and then showing them how to fulfill God’s mission for the world outside the church walls, and outside of the Christian subculture.

  1. Smashing the Idols of Culture Idolatry

An idol is anything that takes the place of God. It’s not limited to the wooden statues we saw people bowing down to in the Old Testament, but anything that is esteemed in the place of God through our affections and desires can be labeled an idol. Alvin Reid has properly termed the Christian subculture as “idolatry.” Our culture of Jesus has become more important than the actual Jesus we are called to worship and obey. Reid says, “We are not to be like the world. But our [Christian] subculture is definitely not making us more like Jesus.” We can’t assume effective disciple-making is a result of Christian music, cliché slogans, or youth group events. We must recognize the culture we have created for ourselves has become idolatrous, and we need to smash the idols we have created. It’s not a quick fix, but it’s a process that begins with a desire for students to know Jesus in an authentic way. Truly knowing Jesus results in a life that is transformed (cf. Rom. 12:2), which means living a life on mission outside of the cultural idols of the Christian subculture.

With these principles, I hope it will help you think through how you can smash the idols of the Christian subculture in your own life, and in the lives of those in your student ministry. I’m obviously not saying you need to go out and burn all of your Christian t-shirts (although it may not be a bad idea to burn some of them). But understanding and then implementing changes strategically into your ministry to align with the mission of Jesus is the goal. As mentioned earlier, the Christian subculture is a bubble. But it only takes a small pin to burst a bubble. Be that pin. Burst the bubble, and by the power of Gods’ Spirit, let your students live out what God has created them for.

Mark Etheridge currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Pittsboro, NC. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program in Christian ministry. You can connect with Mark on both Twitter and Facebook.

Terrace Crawford New Podcast is Live

ThisWeekinYMHeaderPODCAST is LIVE:  The podcast will be available online at www.terracecrawford.com/blog, via iTunes, and at www.ThisWeekinYM.com!  Every Thursday there will be a new episode.
PREMIERE EPISODE: This Week in Youth Ministry – Episode 1: How to Jump Start Your Parent Ministry, featuring Jeremy Lee, the founder of ParentMinistry.net.  Plus+ Tony Nolan, speaker on the WinterJam Tour, drops by to talk about how you can prep your students for events. Terrace Crawford also gives you the scoop on how you can win a GoPro!


RUNNING TIME:   56 minutes. Episodes to follow will be 35 min.

ICYMI – February 20, 2015

ICYMIIf you are like me, there are so many good articles and posts around the internet every week that it becomes difficult to keep up with all of them. “In case you missed it” is my way of pointing out a few good reads  that are too good to overlook. This list will compile the top five posts of the week that I read. 

  1. Gospel proclamation vs. gospel demonstration – Via Ed Stetzer
  2. Why I hate christian movies – Via. Ben Reed
  3. 4 reasons ever pastor needs a good pastor friend – Via Ron Edmondson
  4. 9 current multisite trends for 2015 – Via Tony Morgan
  5. 10 Questions on Dating with Matt Chandler – Via Tony Reinke

Did you read a good article this week? I would love to check it out. Share the link below in the comment section:

3 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

Stressed Man Worries About Economy, Paying Bills, RetirementBurnout happens….a lot! You would be surprised the number of pastors and church leaders who are burnt out with ministry. For some, this is an internal thing where they have to fake enjoying church. For others, they quit and leave the ministry. I want to give you three simple ways to avoid burnout in your ministry.

  • When you get home from work, be home! Obviously you are there physically, but many pastors and church leaders rarely are at home mentally. For example, I have been a student pastor for the past 7 years and students/parents/leaders can text you all of the time. I am the type of guy who always has to respond to a text quickly. So, I quickly found myself being at home, but still at work, and not at home mentally. This is unhealthy for my wife and kids. So, I have learned that not every email/text/or phone call needs to be dealt with at that moment. When you go home, be home. Your family needs you at home mentally!
  • Find an accountability partner and meet with them monthly. This must be intentional, but every pastor and church leader needs one. It is important for your growth as a leader, but also your sanity. I recommend finding someone outside of the church. Someone you can trust and that has little or no connection to your church. It gives you an outlet. Many pastors find the outlet in their spouse. This is not wrong, but sometimes it affects your spouse negatively if you come home and constantly unload. Find an outlet outside of your church.
  • Find yourself a hobby. For a lot of pastors, this is golf. For some, it may be video games. Reading, hunting, bowling, pick up basketball, or whatever. I could care less what the hobby is, I just care that you have one. It is another way to have an outlet. It also gives you exercise and your mind is best when you exercise.

“This Week in Youth Ministry” – New Podcast Launches Thursday

ThisWeekinYMHeaderMy friend, Terrace Crawford is one of the best in the business when it comes to training those in youth ministry! He is still doing some awesome stuff and I want to share with you the newest awesome thing that Terrace has done. Terrace is launching a youth ministry podcast. The podcast will be entitled “This week in Youth Ministry.” This podcast will primarily feature conversations among today’s youth workers and hopefully resource youth workers in a BIG way. The podcast will be available online, via iTunes, and at www.ThisWeekinYM.com! The podcast officially launches on Thursday, February 19th!!

If you love youth ministry, don’t miss the new podcast! #ThisWeekinYM

Check out this promo video about the launch of the new podcast:

4 Myths about Student Ministry

4 myths about student ministry blog postThere are so many myths regarding student ministry and student pastors. I wrote a post about the 5 myths of youth pastors. You can view the post here. This post is about the myths of student ministry.

Student ministry has a stigma about it. I can remember when I first went into student ministry 7 years ago,

  1. Student Ministry is 100% FUN – Most people only notice the fun in youth ministry. They notice the amusement parks, the mission trips, the camps, the games, the activities, and the overnighters. One thing that rarely gets portrayed in student ministry is the difficult side of it. Teens are going through the most awkward time of their lives. They also are facing some of the most rebellious challenges from peers that they will face in their lives. Youth pastors have to discipline teens. Youth pastors have to counsel kids going through horrible and undeserved circumstances. Some of these reasons are likely the reason that the average youth pastor stays at a church only two years. Instead of always noticing the fun youth pastors can have with their students, thank them for the rough times in student ministry as well.
  2. The Student Ministry cannot impact the church – Many view the student ministry as a ministry that cannot impact the entire church. The student ministry can impact the church as a whole. Students can serve the church. Students can be involved in leadership within the church. Ultimately, students can impact the health and direction of the local church.
  3. All problems within the church start in the student ministry – When things in the church go missing, most blame the student ministry. When a church van is dirty or broken, most blame the student ministry. When things get out of control and rowdy, many blame the student ministry. Look, I have been in student ministry for a long time, and not all problems originate in the student ministry. What I have found is that some adults can be just as messy as our students. Students cannot stand being considered the originator of all of the church problems.
  4. The Student Ministry is not important – Ultimately, it is the myths above that some come to the conclusion that student ministry is not important. Student ministry is important. In fact, student ministry is partially responsible for shaping the direction of the next generation (obviously the parents are the primary responsibility for this). In many ways, you could argue that student ministry and kids ministry are the two most important ministries in the local church.

So let’s stop viewing the student ministry from these myths, and start viewing it as a valuable, important, and integral piece in the health of the local church.