Non-Hierarchical Discipleship

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One of the hangups people have on discipling are the abuses of the past. They point to the Boston movement and shun even the idea of discipling due to some abuses of hierarchical and high accountability measures that characterized other movements.

Does discipleship have to be hierarchical? Where one person is clearly the more mature and the other person less mature in their faith?

I don’t think it has to be setup that way. It will always be the case where one person is more mature than the other but that isn’t really the point.

What is the point? Jesus is the teacher. We are not. Jesus is the head. We are not. We facilitate conversations and prayers with other Christians in an effort to grow closer to the Lord, together.

It shouldn’t focus on who is in charge unless that person in charge is Jesus.

This strips out some of the potential temptations and abuses that have often plagued discipleship programs in the past. It keeps all parties on even footing. If there is accountability it can never be forced and it must always be mutual (both parties accountable to each other).

So yes, one person in a discipling relationship will most likely be more mature than the other person but that shouldn’t be the focus. Jesus should be the focus. Jesus is in the lead. We are just helping each other and learning from each other. It all should be mutual.

Let me know your thoughts and experience with this in the comments!

3 Responses

  1. Then he said to the crowd “all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth”, then the preacher stepped down from the pulpit.
    Part of our problems is that we have within our churches a speaking at mentality, instead of a speaking with mentality. I am reminded of Philip who climbed into the chariot with the Ethiopian and read with him. One who had authority was teaching another who also had great authority. They both share the scriptures that was between them. Jesus emerged from the word.
    I think there was a good reason that many of the prophets/apostles came from humble backgrounds in that they were not trained to be polished speakers and teachers, so they could also be led by the Holy Spirit as they led others who were just like them.

  2. This is a great point. Often times, in my experience, one person may be more mature in one way while another is more mature in another way. For example, even young ministers likely have more training and education on certain subjects than most elderly people, but those elderly people frequently have great devotion to prayer and personal scripture reading, among other things. Both can learn from each other. The latter, in my mind, is more important, but both still can benefit from each other. The hierarchical structure often leads many looking for an edge over the other, but if we see each other as mutual servants, we can bless each other more effectively.

  3. The Holy Spirit does not need hierarchical structures in order to disciple believers in kingdom living. But I fear many in this generation will avoid the discipling process because they are afraid to submit to godly leaders, or they are loathe to submit in general. When I first started out in my Christian walk I wanted a discipler, but they were hard to find. Hierarchy was not my problem. There were just too few with the courage to commit to helping others.

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