The platypus is the perfect visual for a discipleship model. Really. Hang in here with me…
The platypus is fascinating. Scientists, however, find these egg-laying, duck-billed, venomous, beaver-tailed mammals quite a conundrum. The species does not play well within the biological classification system. Ultimately, biologists had to create a new family name (Ornithorhynchidae) and genus. It was the only way to connect the mammal into the overall classification system!
It’s quite natural, actually. We humans like to categorize. Alphabetical or numerical or chronological… we seek order to simplify and clarify our world.
We bring this tendency into our faith journey as well. We comb the Bible for the best path toward spiritual maturity. Discipleship has been parsed, mapped, defined, and categorized.
During years of discipling teens and adults, I have seen many models for spiritual development. For example, anyone familiar with the Baseball Diamond model? It uses bases to represent growth in basic biblical knowledge (1st base), spiritual gifts (2nd base), missions (3rd base) and evangelism (Home Plate). What about Venn diagram models? Or the roadway with “rest stops” along the way? Numerous visual and written models exist!
With so many resources, why then do we find it so difficult to mature spiritually??
Indeed, the interwoven and scattered nature of discipleship confounds. Prayer needs Bible study which needs community which needs prayer. Faith-sharing and doubt can lead us away from growth yet they can also draw us back to Jesus.
As one friend shared, “I became frustrated and felt paralyzed to choose which area to focus on.” So she stopped trying.
Well, then…where to start??
New Discipleship Model
First, let’s recover from the goal progression mindset. Discipleship is not meant to be a checklist to conquer. Scripture does not lay out a universal plan. Classification is allusive. Story after biblical story, we see how God interacts with each person according to their own needs, gifts, and place. The one thing that Scripture does show is that there is not ONE single plan.
Second, let’s consider a system that can embrace the multi-faceted nature of discipleship. Amidst the overlap and complexity, think of spiritual growth in seven-part harmony. A model that represents multiple aspects of our journey can best reflect discipleship. All vital parts, all inter-connected.
The seven-part harmony of discipleship include:
Love for God
Love for Others
Heart for the Bible
Passion to serve
The overview with Scripture:
A Place to Grow
No perfect model for discipleship exists. Faith-steps can integrate with one another. Hopefully, this one will resonate and encourage you in your spiritual journey!
Posted by Sharon R Hoover
Photo by By Stefan Kraft [GFDL]