Lucy McMillan, National Higher Coordinator, shares the next of our Lent reflections on the intersection of mission and discipleship.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.
We live busy lives, and it’s often hard to imagine how we can fit much more in. The situation we now find ourselves in with Coronavirus and the self-isolation that we are all practicing has brought into sharp focus how busy we were, as we are forced to cancel our plans, stay at home and stop much of what we did before.
Jesus could have easily become busy in his ministry. He had plenty to do, people were always keen to spend time with him, and there were many demands made of him. And yet, as today’s passage shows us, he took time to focus on individuals, to invite them firstly to ‘Come’ to leave all behind and secondly to ‘Follow me’ to be in relationship and training so the invitation could begin to make more sense.
Before we can walk with people in the journey of discipleship we need to be clear what it is that we are inviting them too – our mission is to echo the words of Jesus and ask people to come to him. But we can’t leave it there. Whilst decisions to come to Jesus are beautiful, personal moments, we also need to be connected into community to really develop in our faith.
The tension in the church today is that some people would focus more on decision making, lacking a robust plan for discipleship leaving these new Christians without a loving and supporting to community to help them learn about their new faith. Conversely others of us can be so open in loving and supporting people in our communities, that we completely forget to give them the most important invitation of all – to come to Jesus. It’s essential to have both.
Over five years of running the Higher Tour has confirmed the truth of that to us. As we’ve gone into schools seeing thousands of young people and then performed, preached and prayed at the end of week gigs we’ve seen many respond to the call to come to him. This truly is a cause for celebration, but, we know that it’s equally essential that each of these those young people finds a loving, supportive community to teach them their faith, to model what it means and to journey with them. Discipleship goes way beyond decisions.
It’s tough to journey with people, it can be time consuming, challenging and at times disappointing. But, it’s the way that Jesus modelled and we can’t escape that.
The way you do mission and discipleship won’t necessarily look like ours, but we all need to make sure that we are journeying with people, bringing in others to take a lead, and constantly going with the gospel. There’s a calling for every follower to also become a fisher and every disciple to also be a disciple creator. Mission and discipleship go hand in hand because neither is complete without the other.
Lord help me to make both mission and discipleship a priority, and at a time when the world is so different show me how I can reach those around me for you.