Personal Discipleship Dilemma.
Is Personal Discipleship actually a hindrance to the Local Church?
What is the problem that we see in Church's today? Is it the influence of evil? Of course. Is it constant division that is the result of differences? Always. What we are talking about today on the surface is not a spiritual problem, nor is it necessarily a social problem. Personal Discipleship has become the primary method in the current generation.
Understand that there really are two kinds of discipleship. 1) Others-based. This type of discipleship requires accountability partners, groups to discuss life and the Bible with, and a local church to serve and grow in. 2) Personal. This kind of discipleship is the kind where you take personal responsibility because you realize that no one can do it for you.
Don't both sound awesome? Of course, both of these are great; so where is the problem?
Personal discipleship is designed to add, never subtract. Before I get into why it's dangerous to practice personal discipleship alone, let's unpack why it's actually necessary and positive for the Christian to do.
Personal Discipleship is Persistent Devotion.
If I asked you to determine the best example in your life for living devoted who would that be? I hope it's Jesus. What is the one thing that marked His ministry consistently? It was submission and devotion to the Father's will. Infact, many times, you see Jesus leave crowds and his disciples to go pray. He constantly reaffirms that He is doing nothing of his own accord or will, but only of the Father's will. How persistent is that?? Persistent devotion to anything else will leave with you with disappointment, discouragement and frustration. Understa8nd that devotion to God is crucial, and devotion is always personal.
Personal Discipleship is a Practical Decision.
Not only should a decision for Jesus be personal, but we must take it practically. Why would God make His plan of Salvation so obvious but so complicated? Why would Jesus stand in our face and require us to do more than follow Him? Listen, God made the path toward salvation so simple so that all could believe, but it's very simplicity is a stumbling block. The opposite question is asked, why would God make it so simple to reach Him? Why wouldn't God require more from us? Applying human logic to God's wisdom will fall short every time. God's Word tells us consistently that it is by placing your faith in the death, and resurrection of Jesus on your behalf that you are saved. As we pursue Christ, your instinct to critique, speculate, ponder, and seek weaknesses must be put aside. What this means is that God's gospel is simple, and never changing. You either have to accept it or move on. (Don't let this tell you that questions cannot be asked- Just look at John chapter 3!)
Personal Discipleship is a Personal Decision
Hopefully by now you can see the personal aspects of our devotion to Christ. This would of course contradict the idea that we can somehow be saved through others. Salvation is a free gift given to all of mankind by His blood, and you must make a personal decision to accept that truth.
We can see how many aspects of our walk with Christ that are so personal! What might the negative sides be?
Personal discipleship is designed to add, never subtract
Personal Discipleship creates Problematic Distance
To many people think faith is so personal that they can do it from Him. Work from Home, shop from Home, and Jesus from Home.
Personal Discipleship demands Personal Dependance
This isolation of faith requires the trust of oneself to be strong enough, willed enough, and devoted enough to stay solid.
Personal Discipleship can foster Permanent Damage
As the previous things compound, you have a unicycle with a flat tire.
There is no backbone to a person's life without the church. There is no trusted family of God to encourage you in His word which is everlasting and sharper than any two-edged sword. We need fellowship as much as possible. Fellowship must be balanced with the personal responsibility to respond and act, but never is it to be replaced.
What's the problem in the church? Personal Discipleship killed the need for Church. "Gods in me, why do I need you?" "God loves me why should I care about serving you?" "I have what I need, and you teach me online, but I don't need to be lectured right now." Personal Discipleship must be practiced in Repentance, Faith, Surrender, and Praise. Personal discipleship is required of us, but in the act, we should never neglect the need for a community of those in Christ. What do you think? Are fewer young people making church a priority? What might be a potential solution?