“…Can you imagine what it would look like if college students who claim Jesus as Lord were equipped and released to lead their friends to Christ, Baptize them, and allow new legitimate local church communities to birth…?”
Michael was a college freshman who found himself deeply saturated in a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and parties, which landed him jail. It was then that he came head on with a community of radical believers who were not your run-of-the-mill pew-sitters…
Shortly after encountering the power of God, and a few of these “new kinds of disciples”, Michael confessed his belief in Christ as Savior. Upon his decision to follow Jesus he was immediately Baptized in the river by a student who had been discipling him. He was welcomed into a new “spiritual family”, which met in homes throughout the city, prayed at the house of prayer together for hours each week, and actively pursued the spread of the Gospel in their individual contexts.
What appeared to be a rather healthy and fruitful “local church community” had no “name” or paid staff, but was led by other students. In the DNA of this “spiritual family” was a desire to birth new “families” as disciples were raised up and released into the harvest. Those sent out continued to be a part of the original family, but were simply no longer dependent upon their “mother”. They were anointed, and sent out to further the kingdom by making more disciples and birthing new churches while continuing to foster the close relationships of a healthy family.
(Michael being Baptized by his sister Meghan)
Being the church to those around us
Michael did not know any better than to follow the lead of his disciplers. He simply did what was modeled for him. He devoured the Word, and sought Truth in the context of Biblical community. He carried a confidence in who he was as a child of God much like that of those who have known Jesus for years! This confidence was embedded in the culture of the entire community. The story of his transformation was, and still is powerful among his “druggy buddies” to this day. He still lives with some of them, and has the privilege of frequenting the parties he used to go to, now as a man transformed by the love of a real God.
Because Michael was discipled, and Baptized by one of his peers it wasn’t half a year later that he Baptized a brother in the same river he was “dunked” in. Because he was welcomed into a new spiritual family that had been started by fellow students he and another student also went out from that church to seek the birth of a new one. It’s just “what Christians do” according to the environment Michael came to Christ, and was disicpled in. It was the norm. He simply went and did likewise what he had personally experienced himself – there was no “pulling of teeth”…
A new Jesus culture
There seems to be a new breed of Christ-follower emerging here in the states. Following these disciples, and surrounding them everywhere they go is a truly unique culture that empowers existing, and new believers alike. Freedom is in the atmosphere; control and manipulation are difficult to find. Some mistake their passion for rebelliousness. The things many pastors/leaders spend a lifetime “pulling teeth” to get “their people” to do are a normal way of life for these radicals who do not know any better.
This type of culture does not currently make the headlines, sell books, or attract financial donors. Sadly, because of how far off our current cultures of discipleship have strayed from what Jesus modeled for us we become easily offended by an authentic example of such when it is lived out in front of our eyes. Our being offended causes truly beautiful examples of Kingdom growth to be doubted, and sneered at because they do not jive with our current practices…
Perhaps we should start asking ourselves why we send thousands of missionaries overseas every year to make disciples & plant new churches, but refuse to do so right here in the states? What might we be doing to “handicap” those we lead, and how might we be preventing these discipleship cultures from being birthed & fostered in our own lives? We are believing for hundreds and thousands of “Michaels” to rise up as the new norm as existing, and new believers are released to live out this life as a “new kind of disciple”.