Learn, Contribute, Grow
Lent Reflections: Making Disciples - Oakland, California
Apr 6, 2012
One of the key values in our movement is Making Disciples. We desire not to just gain conversions or increase church activity but rather develop faith communities of active Jesus followers who are daily growing in their maturity and obedience to Christ. As someone on staff in the Internship Dept. I think about this value a lot as this is one of my main responsibilities as a staff worker. It truly is the main thrust of my work and ministry - cultivating, shaping, empowering, and coaching young adults to be faithful disciples of Jesus who are living out the Word of God as they experience and desire Shalom in the city.
As someone who is training and raising up young adults who are learning how to live, serve, and work amongst the urban poor, I realize the importance of this value in our ministry. We don’t want to just teach justice to young adults, but we want them to be about justice. We desire for them to be living out the Gospel as they develop their relationship with Jesus - being obedient to that call in their lives on a daily basis.
One way I’ve had the privilege of seeing this play out is through the Word of God. Twice a week we come together as a team to study Scripture. Last year, we studied the book of Luke, and this year, we are studying Acts. As a staff of ten interns in Oakland, I have prayed often that they would not just be “scholars” of the Word, but “practionars” of the Word. That they wouldn’t just know Scripture, but do it in obedience to Jesus and in response to a deep love for Jesus. That the study of God’s Word would have direct impact on their lives and the lives of their neighbors as they try to live incarnationally in East Oakland. And I have seen the direct impact of being in the Word affect their relationship with Jesus as they experience transformation and healing in their lives but also in the lives of the urban poor.
Recently we studied the Stoning of Stephen in Acts 7. From week to week, you never really know how the Holy Spirit is going to use the passage to speak to us as a team. But strangely enough, this particular story encouraged one of our interns who had been struggling with their identity as God’s beloved and fully living out the call in their lives. They wrote after the study....
“Today I feel much better and it had everything to do with the Word! In Acts, Stephen is a man with great confidence in who he is, but most of all Who he serves. It did not matter that the Sanhedrin, Pharisees, and all of the 'important' people opposed him. It did not matter that they had 'status' in the eyes of the people. The only thing that mattered was proclaiming Truth, even though that Truth was unpopular, looked different (from their ideas of truth) and meant death.”
Since the study I’ve been extremely encouraged to see how this disciple of Jesus has been growing in their confidence level, and in their ability to live out their giftings in such a way that has great impact on the Kingdom of God. They truly have been experiencing transformation and healing due to the study and integration of the Word of God. I have witnessed first hand how they have been taking more risks to explore their gifts, to experience more joy in God through those risk, and have really reached out to neighbors with a new level of boldness and freedom.
As their staff, I myself have been more and more convinced that the Word of God has the ability to transform, heal, and change us as the people of God. That the actual study AND doing of Scripture truly has the ability to cultivate and equip obedient and active followers of Jesus. That's why the Word is such a key part of our Internship program as we make disciples who are obedient to the call to love, live, serve, and learn amongst the urban poor.