Ordinary discipleship

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From Our Leaders

April 4, 2018 | Viewpoints | Volume 22 Issue 08
Norm Dyck,

How comfortable are you with change? Change seems to be the most consistent “unchanging” reality of our lives. We are always experiencing change. Thankfully many, or even most, of the changes we experience are small or gradual, like the steady change in my hair colour to ever-more grey! However, from time to time life events or circumstances bring the reality of significant change to the forefront.

Recently, the regular rhythms of my life experienced significant disruption. As I concluded ministry as pastor of Listowel (Ont.) Mennonite Church and anticipated beginning a new role with Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, I was confronted with the disorientation of having no plans for the weekend! While many would relish the thought, my weekly rhythm as a pastor was always directed towards the culmination of sharing a sermon on Sunday, followed by a day off on Monday, which would reboot the rhythm.

As I write this column, I haven’t shared a sermon in three months—and weekends still feel strange. That’s about to change as invitations begin to arrive; however, this time of disorientation has provided valuable reflection space.

In the course of a recent coaching huddle, I was challenged with the question: What would my life as a disciple look like if I wasn’t a leader in the church? Am I clear on the call to be a disciple beyond any ministry role?

In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 disciples with the instruction: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way.” The instructions continue from there, and I invite you to ponder them with your family or community.

What continues to pique my curiosity about this text is that we know little about these 72 disciples whom Jesus sent to the towns and villages “where he himself intended to go.” They were ordinary women and men who followed Jesus. They weren’t selected because of their particular giftedness or their future leadership potential; they were sent because they loved Jesus and longed for his coming kingdom. The 72 challenge us to realize that the call to grow as disciples—to make disciples—is the “ordinary” call of every follower of Jesus.

What does ordinary discipleship look like? Within the Mennonite church we are, dare I say, proud of our community ethic. Discipleship flourishes in the context of a believing community. But community must mean more than the few hours I spend with a worshipping community on Sunday! I spend much more of my week with my family/household than I do with the worshipping community I’m a part of. As a result, ordinary discipleship invites our family to consider what it means to be on mission together.

What is God inviting us to see, experience or join in our immediate neighbourhood? Being serious about answering that question is a recipe for radical change.

Norm Dyck is MC Eastern Canada’s mission engagement minister.

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