My daughter, who is in First Grade, just finished playing basketball for 6 weeks. She had never played basketball and wanted to. While she was the tallest one on the team, she wasn't the most coordinated. She was afraid of catching the ball after a rebound, and never had much of a shot at shooting a basket. Sometimes she even ran to the other side of the court sideways!
One of the first things she learned, though, was to put her hands up to block her opponent when they were on the opposite side. She learned to use her height to her advantage. It was fun, though, as the weeks went by, to see her get better and better. During her 4th game, she actually made a basket, which was tremendous! About that same time she tried to grab the ball after a rebound. She became more confident in dribbling and shooting the ball. On her last game she made several shots, though didn't make it. It was quite impressive to see the progress she made during that time!
Makes me think about discipleship. When a person comes to Christ, they don't know everything. In fact, to many who have been in the church for awhile, the new believer is, well, uncoordinated! Here is where discipleship can fall short though - we think that the more a person knows about the Bible, that person will grow in the faith. While sound doctrine is important, it needs to be brought along with the practical. Think about it - did my daughter and her team become better because they just learned facts about basketball? Did they get better by watching movies or just talking about basketball or reading a 'How to Play Basketball' manual? No! They got better by doing. They learned some things about basketball while putting it into practice.
A problem of many discipleship programs in churches is that they focus on facts and doctrine that are unrelated to everyday practical living. The person might have a lot of head knowledge, but have no idea how to implement it into their life. We need to help people take the Word of Life and apply it to their situations. That's not easy - especially in a society that doesn't have time for people and relationships. Yet, isn't this to be the main purpose of the church? Didn't Jesus say to "Go and make disciples?" Honestly, I think that maybe the church needs to stop and analyze what it is doing and see if what they are doing is truly helping people to make changes in their life. My daughter didn't become better at basketball because of a lecture - she became better by doing and working with others who had the same goal. Isn't that what we should strive for discipleship to be, too?
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