The Three-Fold Disciple (Part 1)

I read a quote the other day from a book I am reading The Convergent Church by Mark Liederbach and Alvin Reid. The quote said, “too often discipleship models are regulated to classroom teachings in Sunday school settings and seminary classrooms with knowledge based curricula instead of life-on-life, obedience based discipleship.” They go on to say, “The emphasis on orthodoxy (right teaching) has led to the unfortunate neglect of orthopraxy (right living).” Liederbach and Reid are on to something in this book. They are pointing to the lack of discipleship in the American Church. I know that they, nor I am the first to point this out. Many books, blogs, and sermons will be written about how to fix the problem. Yet, one chord they hit on is the fact that for so long we have equated discipleship with classroom learning. We have taught that if a person can acquire more knowledge about God then that makes him a true disciple. This could not be further from the truth.

May I propose that we get back to teaching the three-fold process of discipleship: Head, Heart, and Hands. It is true that in order to be a disciple one must first know the facts of the gospel, this happens with our head. Yet, we cannot allow facts to become the end of discipleship. If we only focus on knowing facts of the gospel we are missing the other two-thirds. Jesus said, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, ESV). The Apostle Paul proclaimed, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, ESV). In order to be a disciple a person must come to an intellectual knowledge of the gospel, but it must not stop there. If a person merely has intellectual knowledge of the gospel, he can know all the right facts, but not know Jesus. This is why it is so dangerous to define discipleship in this manner. There are atheists who know the facts of the gospel but do not believe it, nor live it. This leads to the second aspect of discipleship, the heart which I will discuss my next post.


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