Reflections on the Early Church and The Edge Home Churches Today – Pt. #4 - Catechisms and Schools of Discipleship

Discipleship"Election needs to be seen as a doctrine of mission, not a calculus for the arithmetic of salvation. If we are to speak of being chosen, of being among God’s elect, it is to say that, like Abraham, we are chosen for the sake of God’s plan that the nations of the world come to enjoy the blessing of Abraham (which is exactly how Paul describes the effect of God’s redemption of Israel through Christ in Gal. 3:14)." ~ Christopher Wright

It is this focus on discipleship that distinctly sets the early church apart from many other eras in its history. Learning from Jesus and the way he disciples, the early church recognized that, “people matter more than rules and rituals.”[1] The catechism to which the church was to pass on, according to Jesus’ words in Matt. 28:18-20, was not meant to be simply a head knowledge or academic exercise, but a life transformational experience. As David Bosch states, “Again the difference between the disciples of Jesus and the talmidim of the Jewish teachers is striking. To follow Jesus does not mean passing on his teachings or becoming the faithful custodians of his insights, but to be his ‘witnesses.’”[2] This was often expressed through a personal exclusively committed covenant between the believer and God.

Within each tribe’s expression of their rhythms, the practice of covenants varies and has different forms. While some tribes take it more seriously then others, some find there practice both in the verbal and unwritten sense, while others break them down and write personalized covenants with God as a Rule of Life commitment. Expressions (my tribe) practice a (I)Living Covenant following our rhythms of Invitational, Incarnational, and Inspirational Living; yet, recognizing the diversity in each of our personal lives, each of these rhythms are open to the interpretation and level of commitment by each member. As we practice them personally, we also witness to one another communally in our gatherings how we each have experienced them over the week. In this way, discipleship takes on both an individual personal walk as well as a communal tribal movement of accountability.

While feeling greatly challenged by this practice of discipleship, it has impacted us in some great growth and richness in our relationship with God and others. Success in mission is a question to which we ponder and yet we find encouragement by turning to the example of the early church as they experienced in a relational model and not institutional.

[1] Bosch, David Jacobus. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1991). Pg. #36.

[2] Ibid. Pg. #39.