So much of what we do in Christendom is an attempt to get believers to be better in one way or another. For example, as worshipers (hire a Worship Leader), or as evangelists (adopt an outreach program), or as givers (preach a sermon series on “stewardship”).
Such approaches may work for a time, but eventually the people will burn out. Why? Because we are trying to pull out of people what is not there. What is needed is to disciple them into being greater lovers of Jesus, and then get out of their way as the love of Christ constrains them to be all God made them to be in Him -- true worshipers, true fellowshipers, true servants, eager evangelists, generous givers, etc.
In another blog post, I talked about a common picture of the functions of the Church. Many teachers say Worship, Fellowship, Service, Evangelism and Discipleship should be balanced like equal segments of a pie chart.
Re-thinking these five functions leads me to advocate for a better paradigm: a five-tiered fountain with worship at the top and disciplemaking at the base.
Think about it. The purpose of a fountain is to physically, visibly and audibly display water in an attractive and pleasing way. So too, God’s purpose for His people is to physically, visibly and audibly display His image and glory in an attractive and pleasing way.
Without water filling the bottom bowl or tier, a fountain cannot fulfill its purpose. Similarly, without Christ the Living Water filling a person’s life, he or she cannot fulfill his or her purpose.
Jesus Christ, the Living Water, is the source for us to live the life God desires for us. Jesus speaks of this in two passages in the book of John:
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. (John 4:14)
He who believes [trusts] in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38-39; author’s annotation)
But notice this about a fountain! Having water in the bottom bowl is not enough. The fountain must have power to a pump (or some other source of pressure) that pushes the water up through a fountain’s unobstructed central supply pipe. Otherwise, the water cannot spill over into the higher bowls or tiers of the fountain and flow back down to the base. The result will be that the water becomes stagnant and eventually evaporates away.
In the same way, without the power of the Holy Spirit flowing freely through a believer, the life of Jesus will not spill over and be evident in all the areas and aspects of the believer’s life.
So how do you or I, as a believer, become an unobstructed vessel through which the life of Jesus can flow freely? The answer (or at least God’s preferred answer) is by means of some other more mature believer(s) coming alongside us and helping us grow to some sufficient level of spiritual maturity. In other words, through disciplemaking from others into your or my life! This disciplemaking effort into our lives enables more of the Lord Jesus Christ to flow through and spill over from our lives and ultimately give out or produce disciplemaking from us to others.
Disciplemaking is about one person allowing God to use him as God’s instrument in helping another person
die to himself,
let Christ, the living water, flow into, fill up and overflow from his life.
The Holy Spirit works through such disciplemaking to clean out, expand, and lengthen the central inner supply line of a person’s “fountain of life.” This leads to Jesus’ life being seen more clearly, more fully and more powerfully. It also causes the person to know, trust and love God more deeply and intimately.
All of this is why I say that disciplemaking is the top priority function God intends for every Christian and every congregation. Every other function and every good thing we and God desire for ourselves and others will overflow as a supernatural by-product from effective disciplemaking being worked into believers' lives.