How Do We Exist? …disciples making disciples
Living Stones makes outsiders insiders through our commitment to be a church of disciples making disciples. A disciple is someone who is a follower or learner; specifically under Jesus Christ’s lordship and grace. They receive their identity from who he is and what he has done; all while living within gospel relationships and rhythms as seen in the chart below.
The Discipleship Guide explained:
1. Gospel Identity
The core of a disciple is their identity. The disciple is someone who’s identity is no longer found in their own person and work, but in the person and work of Jesus. Because of this, their central identity is that of someone who is chosen, forgiven, redeemed, loved, sent, and graced by God.
People tend to place their identity in their past, present, and hopes for the future. Identification rested in what has happened to them, their successes, failures, accomplishments, aspirations, and connections.
True gospel identity places all these things in Jesus Christ. His past, present and future become the truth in which we find our identity. All of the things listed above then are transformed and redefined through our connection to Jesus. Therefore, gospel identity is the heart of discipleship under Jesus.
2. Gospel Relationships
A disciple is not only someone who’s identity is place in Jesus, but who also lives out this identity in three types of relationships: God, believers, and unbelievers. Simply put, a disciple is someone who sees all these relationships through the lens of the cross of Jesus.
A. Relationship to God:
God sees us through the cross and we see him through the cross. We related to God as sons and daughters because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, and God relates to use as our heavenly Father because of the work of Jesus as well. In order to deepen and maintain this relationship with God, we believer there are three primary disciplines or as many in church history referred to them three Means of Grace.
- Worship: Through worship we rightly related to God and he relates to us. He is the primary relationship in our life and is therefore he is our highest priority. Our affections, desires, thoughts, and actions are all submitted to him and under his rule and direction
- Prayer: Understood simply as communication with God. The Scriptures are filled with prayers from book of Psalms, the Lord’s Prayer, as well as many examples of prayers found within the New Testament. Prayer is a combination of petition, supplication, adoration, repentance, silence and solitude.
- Scripture: Another means of maintaining relationship with God comes from acquainting ourselves to Scripture. We do this through listening to preaching and hearing Scripture read, but also through the private reading and memorization of Scripture. This may be done by reading through the whole Bible or by meditating on just one passage of Scripture a day. The point is that we make God’s voice the predominant voice in our lives. Because we hold Scripture to be the inerrant authoritative word of God, we repeatedly submit ourselves and let God rule over our us by his word
B. Relationship to Believers:
We see our relationship with other believers through the cross of Jesus Christ, we do not see other christians just for their past, present, and future or their performance, vocation, or any other markers according to the flesh, but instead we see them as our brothers and sisters beloved by God and forgiven. This is why we seek to love one another, call one another to repentance, and serve one another.
Another one of the ways God relates to us is through community (relationships with other believers). Each believer should seek to be discipled by those more mature in the faith while also disciple others in the faith. One of the purposes of this is to develop a relationship that can be summarized by the “One Another” verses found in the New Testament:
- Love one another (Jon 13:34,35; Rom 13:8; 1 Thess 4:9; 1 Pet 3:8; 4:8; 1 Jn 3:11, 23; 4:7)
- Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Rom 12:10)
- Live in harmony with one another (Rom 12:16)
- Honor one another above yourselves (Rom 12:10)
- Serve one another in love (Gal 5:13)
- Carry each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2)
- Forgiving each other (Eph 4:32)
- Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)
- Bear with one another (Col 3:13)
- Teach & admonish one another (Col 3:16)
- Encourage one another (Heb 3:13; 1 Thess 4:19, 5:11)
C. Relationship to Unbelievers:
One of the core components of a disciple’s life that is often ignored in many churches is this extremely important relational concept. Without a relationship with unbelievers the church can’t possibly be a church of disciples making disciples (and in doing so cannot be the church that God has called it to be). Because God desires to build his bride through the reconciliation of people from all nations or relationship with nonbelievers is the primary way we join in God’s mission. We see unbelievers through the cross, not seeing them for their sins but working to see them reconciled to God. We believe this happens best through friendship. We are friends of sinners like our Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples. Ignoring this relationship will cause the church to become ingrown and spiritually unhealthy.
3. Gospel Rhythms
Each of the gospel rhythms are lived out of our gospel identity and happen within the context of and maintain our gospel relationships.
A. Worship: As listed above under Relationship with God primarily concerns adoration, submission, and reception (adoration and submission to God, reception from God). Worship is something that is carried out both in private and in public. Private worship can be understood best through Relationship with God above. Public worship happens on the Lord’s Day once a week in celebration and remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection. On this day we gather with the saints to pray, adore God through song, hear Scripture read, then preached, and observation of the sacraments. This happens within our gospel relationship as believers adore and submit to God while receiving grace from God through the ministry of the church while unbelievers are exposed to God, his gospel and his people.
We believe public worship is the primary ministry of the church and is the primary mode of discipleship. This comes from our conviction that not only have we seen this within the global Church over the past 2000 years but that this is actually seen throughout Scripture.
B. Community: The rhythm by which we as disciples move from isolation to connection. In community, we live our lives in the presence of others, both giving our presences to others and absorbing the presence of others. This rhythm profoundly shapes our souls.
The primary way we practice this rhythm is through Community Groups. These groups serve as smaller expressions of the church that meet in homes, apartments, coffeeshops, pubs, and parks. They are communities centered around God’s word, prayer, care and the living out of the “one anothers” of Scripture. This is achieved by a building off the weekly worship gatherings in a more dialogical and communal setting.
C. Mission: “The Church exists by mission as a fire exists by Mission.” The church is not the Church if it is not on mission. God is bringing redemption to the world and has sent his people out to that end. This mission has four components as revealed in Scripture: (1) The Great Mandate (or cultural mandate, Gen 1:28), (2) The Great Commandment (Matt 22:35-40), (3) The Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20), (4) The Great Exchange (2 Cor 5:21).
We believe that all four of these components should inform the mission of the church. This means that the church is not designed to lie stagnant but always dedicate itself to the movement of God. Simply put, where you find God’s people you find mission.