Disciple = Learner

The Greek term for disciple in the New Testament is mathetes which refers generally to any “student,” “pupil,” “apprentice,” or “adherent”—basically a disciple is a “learner.”  In the ancient world, however, it is most often associated, with people who were devoted followers of a great religious leader or teacher of philosophy.  As followers of Jesus, his commission to his bride, the Church, was to go and make more disciples of all people groups, immersing them in the knowledge and understanding of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and apprenticing them in obedience to the command to love God and others.
When I observe the traditions of the Reformed Church in America, and also in my short seven months at ARC, I feel we are very committed to helping our children and young people “learn about God,” but once a person graduates from high school most of the expectation for further learning is reduced to trying to glean from whatever happens in a Sunday morning worship service.
Now granted, I am well aware that we have many adult disciples at ARC who have fully given themselves to lifelong learning as a follower of Jesus, and I praise God for how the Holy Spirit is working in you and through you. However, I also feel many in our congregation are missing out on the joy and expectation of our Master to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8).   And it’s for that reason the Education Committee has recommended that we develop an Adult Discipleship Team at ARC that will promote lifelong spiritual development for our adults.
So, having shared those insights, I also would like to share with you that Angela Fick and Merlin Wynia have already been affirmed by the Consistory to pioneer and lead our new Adult Discipleship Team. They have already been busy at work considering God’s vision for this ministry and have chosen Ephesians 4:12-13 as one of their guiding passages. It goes like this, “He [Jesus] handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.”
And it’s from this passage they have developed this working draft for their vision statement: Working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, the Adult Discipleship Team seeks to provide multiple transformational learning opportunities and resources for adult men and women in order to develop fully mature and alive reproducing followers of Christ.
In order to carry out the vision, also in the developing stages, Merlin and Angie will be assembling a larger team (4-8 more members) that will promote participation in small groups, spiritual gift discovery, mentoring, and participation in special adult discipleship events. They have come up with a number of people they are considering to invite to help them, however, if being part of this ministry excites you, please contact one of them (preferably within the next two weeks).
I am really excited about where I see God working in ARC. Please pray for Merlin and Angie as they work in cooperation with the Holy Spirit in helping us become more “efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” And in the meantime, may you and I consider our level of passion for becoming an authentic, reproducing, follower of Christ – discipleship is not just for kids!
In the dust of the Rabbi,  Mike

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