Discipling

The Discipling Norm

While the term, “disciple,” is coupled with “knowing,” and the two terms speak to the concept of leadership development in the kingdom of God, Jesus is more interested in the level of commitment to which His disciples than mere instruction. Discipling is more about learning a lifestyle through shared spiritual experience than graduating from a course of study. Information transfer would be discussed with different terms including teacher and student in terms of acquiring a measurable body of knowledge.

We know that knowledge by itself produces pride: having acquired knowledge, we can determine on our own what to do with that knowledge. “Teachable” in the mouth of Jesus isn’t about intellectual exercise measured by “do you remember what I said” as much as it is about “the man that hears what I say and does it.”

So “teachable” as a discipling basic is about becoming a different person who can behave in a different way, acquiring and sustaining a new lifestyle consistent with the principles, protocols, and purposes of the kingdom of God.

Jesus begins the discipling with a foundational call: “Follow Me.” This is deeper than “accompany Me where I’m going.” This is deeper than “be present to observe what I’m doing.” That would be as deep as the crowds who attempted to define Jesus with their false expectations. That would be as deep as His enemies who “followed” Him to catch Him in an opportunity for criticism.

“Following” Jesus means being present to hear, observe, and receive, but much more because “following” means doing what I am doing so that by shared spiritual experience you can learn to be like Me as the fountainhead of doing what I’m doing and saying what I’m saying. “Following” means “lay down your life,” “take up your cross,” and “continue in My word.”

“If you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed.” Real disciples live the fullest consequences of their shared spiritual experiences. They are really disciples because they really live kingdom principles, protocols, and purposes.

Ask modern believers what “continue in My word” means, and the answers will astonish you! Anything from “go to church every Sunday” for the older crowd to ” don’t forget how to quote John 3:16″ for the younger crowd, and in between a smattering of misplaced slogan chanting or “I feel really loved.” When kingdom was laid aside and “church” became the totality of a believer’s life and lifestyle, “continue in My word” started looking more like a label than a lifestyle or “church” became a religious subculture based upon doctrinal idolatry or denominational distinctives.

John started the discipling thing with repentance, water baptism, and “fruits of repentance.” Jesus took up what John founded with the Grace and Power of life-change and a baptism of Holy Spirit and fire that would purge the old and dead from the disciple’s life so the disciple could represent Jesus in the earth.

Human Discipling

The kingdom is composed of kingdom leaders. Within the kingdom, kingdom leaders bring a discipling culture to believers. Outside the kingdom, all the citizens of the kingdom bring kingdom leadership to the cultures of the earth. The kingdom is a kingdom of leaders, discipled within the kingdom so they can disciple cultures outside the kingdom. For the human kingdom citizens to influence and impact outside the kingdom, they must be discipled with kingdom leadership inside the kingdom.

That is, Jesus is doing direct discipling. No “Jesus and me” isolation from the kingdom and the Body is “normal.” It is a form of dysfunction. To live without a human discipling – and I’m not speaking of attending a weekly service but an established, somewhat formal relationship with a spiritual father, an accountability for personal destiny – is to live outside the norms of the kingdom of God.

Weak human discipling will result in weak kingdom discipling: the influence and impact of the kingdom in the culture will be diminished. This is the most important, fundamental characteristic of the modern form of christianism: it has little influence or impact upon the culture. A truly awakened and revived Church will be a kingdom force to the culture in which it exists by producing teachable and transformable leaders within the kingdom who can be kingdom leaders wherever they live and function in the culture outside the kingdom.

A kingdom disciple can show you by lifestyle what Jesus said so what Jesus said has the proper meaning in the lives of those who are being discipled by them. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Now, read the context of this phrase: “Consider the lifestyles of those provide leadership for you, who have communicated God’ Word: follow their faith, the result of their lifestyles. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow , considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8]

Jesus is consistently, continuously, and constantly the same when we are properly discipled, when the leaders disciple us in the principles, protocols, and purposes of the kingdom and we make that relational process a priority in our own lives. Unplug from this dynamic and Jesus Christ becomes someone or something else? Not in this sense that He is changeable, but the result is that believers who fail to live out the full consequences of faith ultimately alter that faith to fit their lifestyles and Jesus is not represented in the earth properly anymore.

Spiritual Agendas

God’s kingdom operates in complex spiritual systems, like the twelve systems of the human body, and these complex spiritual systems each have a kingdom agenda. Kingdom leaders assigned to accomplish kingdom purposes prepare and position the parts of the Body to function in cooperative concert within these complex spiritual systems. The complex spiritual systems have agendas, strategies through which Holy Spirit operates to accomplish kingdom tasks so their accumulative achievement produce God’s desired goals.

In opposition, hell operates in complex spiritual systems, methodologies and strategies to thwart, confuse, distract, and replace the goals of God. The goals of hell have little or no long-term purpose beyond destroying, stealing, or killing what God has determined. These complex spiritual systems are identified in Scripture by terms that identify the nature and character of hellish rulers: python, Leviathan, and antichrist, for example. Like the kingdom of God, the systems of hell have agendas, strategies through which principalities and powers operate to establish a cosmic order that answers to the conspiracy against Messiah Jesus. These are anti-christ systems with agendas set in opposition to the goals of God.

Any person, Ecclesia, city, region, or culture has identifiable spiritual agendas in operation at any given time. These agendas mark the spiritual battlegrounds of kingdom clashes. Here, apostles and prophets who function in blueprint, foundational leaders identify the agendas and provide the Body with kingdom strategies to positively press for the purposes of God while gaining accumulative victories the embattlements set in place by the adversary.

Agendas

The term “agenda” is the plural of “agendum” used first in theological discourse to speak of “non-theological” decision-making and problem-solving leadership. The “agendum” were listed in an “agenda” to determine how to deal with the list of matters attendant to and surrounding the theological work of the church.

Put that picture into the complex spiritual systems of kingdom and Leviathan. See more clearly how the metaphor of body and building which Jesus and Paul use to speak of kingdom come reveals to us “how things work in the spirit.”

To recognize, analyze, and understand the agenda of God makes blueprint leadership practical, allows for specific goal-setting, both short and long term, and clarifies how individual body members or living stones are prepared and positioned to function. With God’s agenda, Holy Spirit reveals how God intends to accomplish His purposes through kingdom leadership dynamics.

To recognize, analyze, and understand the agenda of hell allows leaders to deal with the opposition of the adversary to God’s agenda, avoid distraction or substitution, and maintain the focus of personal and corporate passion on God’s goals. With revelation of the enemy’s method – “we are not ignorant of his methods” – preplanned movements, set timing, and decisions about setting the pace of kingdom expansion are more powerful.

Often, the opposition of the enemy gives us revelation of the greater work of kingdom advancement because we observe our greatest destinies in our greatest battles. Here, we gain our greatest victories to make our greatest advancements.

Agendas in a time and place, working in the people of that time and place, are the textbooks blueprint leaders must read and study, and the workbooks they must use to guide the operation of complex spiritual systems, diagnose problems to be solved, and decisions to be made.

How familiar are we with God’s agenda? First, ask yourself what a person, Ecclesia, city or region looks like fully transformed and functional when the blueprint of God is finished, when the restoration process is complete, and when the complex spiritual systems are in full operation.

Usually, architects provide an artistic rendition of the finished building with its surrounding landscape when they have completed the blueprints for constructing that building. This artistic conceptualization allows us to visualize the way things should be when the assignment is accomplished.

At the same time, the finished product with blueprints allows the architect and builder to prepare a materials list so order the prepared building blocks needed. As well, the master builder will have an “agenda” of particulars, a cumulative process of what must be done first by whom, what must be set in place when, a sequence of events in construction for decision-making and problem-solving at each stage of construction.

At any given moment, the complexity of the process may mean no one sees the agenda in full or understands how their particular portion of the whole fits the master plan, how the materials they supply, deliver, or install fit the timeline or accumulative substrata, or why the blueprint calls for specific and unusual construction of minor details. (“Why does this closet need reinforced concrete flooring?”)

By the way, this might help us understand why the landscape of modern christianism is filled with “closets” called “churches” instead of Ecclesias that legislate kingdom authority and power into their cultures.

Agendas of the Enemy

Now, consider the agendas of the enemy in a culture. Think of the anti-family agenda, the anti-marriage agenda, the anti-creation agenda, the anti-freedom agenda, for example. Understand that the cultural voice of the legislative Body doesn’t dictate legislation in human government as much as it influences the culture in foundational ways that are eventually reflected in that government from the grassroots.

Consider that while loving the individuals in the LGBTQ coalition, the Ecclesia opposes the agenda of hell using these people to influence and control the culture. This agenda isn’t about “human rights” at all! The agenda is about remaking the culture according to a hellish agenda to avoid that culture finishing the blueprint of God!

The enemy uses the opposition to the agenda to paint the Ecclesia as “homophobic, barbaric, unloving, and judgmental,” but the reality is that the Ecclesia loves the individuals while warring against the agenda that uses these individuals to frustrate God’s goals for that nation.

Is Leadership Biblical?

I didn’t ask this question but a segment of the modern America church is definitely asking it, answering it without the Bible in mind, or unwittingly or intentionally applying their answer to this question to their lives.

To some extent this is an overreaction to dysfunctional leadership, a discussion to which I would readily agree. However, in many cases it is an overcompensation for poor leadership, or an extreme of “the answer to poor is leadership is no leadership” approach.

God never replaces dysfunction with no function, false with nothing, or abuse with uselessness. God doesn’t ever give up on His agenda even when the agendas of hell, expressed through the spirit of the world and its cosmic order, dominate cultures and institutions. God never assumes the crises are so severe that the best approach is to abandon His principles and purposes. Even when He destroyed the world with a flood or burned up cities who had past the point of no return, or told Moses to move over so He could start over with a new generation, God never gave up on His principles and purposes. He simply sought a way to get what He wants with other people willing to make His agenda their’s.

No argument for “no leadership” can be made from the Bible. No argument for “no leadership” can be made for family, kingdom, or culture. No argument for new definitions of leadership can be made from any heavenly source because God anticipated the dynamics of leadership He designed for kingdom when He created people, founded kingdom, and established His Ecclesia.

The question isn’t “Is leadership Biblical?” but “what leadership is Biblical?” and “What leadership dynamics does God presuppose as foundational to His created order?”

Substitutes Don’t Work

If you read current books or listen to modern method messages about church-anity, you will discover how far from kingdom norms we have wandered. God’s principles become platitudes interpreted into substitutes for the complex spiritual systems of the Body of Christ. Analyses of failures to relate and new approaches to “reaching our generation” produce novel and sometimes nasty models for leadership. Few even discuss kingdom let alone. Nearly all dismiss the design and dynamics Jesus installed in the Ecclesia. Even fewer can model the true function of these dynamics in a way that is measurable beyond titles and perceptions – truth about the Truth concepts of “fathering, apostolic, prophetic, and church.”

All substitutes provide appearances for spiritual realities that welcome demonic distraction and substitution for Divine design and dynamics.

This is modern idolatry as a systematic spiritual delusion, a spiritual condition discussed in Scripture as Leviathan. The agenda of heaven is kingdom; the answer of hell is systematic delusion.

Isn’t is singular that when discussing how this attack occurs the Bible says, “The foundation of God stands sure?” Isn’t is singular that Hebrews says God shook a mountain when establishing a kingdom culture in Israel, and now is shaking everything so that what cannot be shaken will be all that’s left? Isn’t singular that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken?

Then, isn’t is singular that the foundational leadership dynamics of the Ecclesia, apostle and prophet, are the two dynamics of kingdom leadership so easily dismissed by people who have made a decision to ignore kingdom with reference to Ecclesia? That is, their very dismissal of these leadership dynamics reveals their understanding that “no kingdom exists now” means “no apostles and prophets now.”

Ask for some intellectual honesty here! The idea that the BIble teaches kingdom stopped when Jesus ascended and won’t have anything to do with our lives, cultures, or the “church” until He returns is about as believable as the idea that “science” proves man-made global warming. In other words, forget what the evidence says in favor of making the evidence fit a theory that fits an agenda that allows for a substitute for God’s principles and purposes in the earth. [True in both cases.]

In each case, the agenda allows more control by the substitutes for God’s designed leadership dynamics in individuals, families, cultures, and the Ecclesia. Agendas are the operational battle plans of systematic spiritual delusion.

Fit that into the statement: “Put covetousness to death for it is idolatry.” [Colossians 3:5] Making the things or systems of this world the foundation of our motivations and forcing our leadership dynamics to answer to these “of earth” conditions, is idolatry, or substitution as deadly to kingdom dynamics as the demons who stand behind idols.

Idolatry is distracted worship responding to the rule or lead of something someone other than the God of the Bible.

Beware of any systematic substitution for discipling that basically says, “We are doing what Jesus said to do but in a different way that fits the modern world or is relevant to the thinking of moderns.” It is one step from idolatry, or already bungee jumping into the abyss of substitution for the design and dynamics of kingdom.

Beware the less than subtle demands of people that become the burdens of ministry that are not the burden of The Lord. Beware the “answers” to “we need to do this” that are nothing but a sell-out of kingdom priorities to appease the agenda of this world operating in carnal believers.

Beware while you are working to assist families in crisis because the culture has norms that destroy the foundation of family, that you do not create another “christianized” substitute for God’s design for marriage, family, parenting, and leadership yourself, for example. The Ecclesia doesn’t parent or rear children, neither do we design ministry to substitute for good parenting or provide for spiritual adultery in the case of dysfunctional marriage relationships.

Incorporating new norms into ministry, as World Vision is doing by advertising that they will hire people who have chosen LGBT lifestyles and labeled them “marriage,” doesn’t make ministry more relevant, nor is this concept of “ministry” consistent with any principle or purpose of the kingdom. Incorporation some substitute for Biblical discipline, as many believers are doing with their children and nearly all the Ecclesia has done with broken relationships among believers, doesn’t make ministry more relevant, nor does this model improvement the well-being of children or believers. Substitutes do more than weaken, they install an agenda.

Prophetic Process, Prophets as Fivefold Leaders

We understand from Peter that prophets who wrote Scripture were moved along by the Spirit. We understand by comparison that many prophets were unique in their prophetic function, mostly alone in their assignments, because they were predominantly called to write Scripture. We understand that the prophetic process for prophets writing Scripture is unique as well.

The prophetic process begins with revelation. Of course, the revelation is perfect though not complete. God is never confused or cloudy in the revelation. “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

Immediately revelation arrives, communication occurs – if we are discussing prophecy, that is – because the revelation has to flow through the mind of man. At this point, perfection is no longer a standard.

The difference for prophets who wrote Scripture is that when the revelation stepped into communication, God’s involvement continued at the level of perfection guaranteeing inerrancy, that the message communicated didn’t contain God’s Word but is God’s Word eternally and immutably Word of God.

We never communicate at this level. Never. We aren’t writing new books to the Bible, nor are we making these writing better or expanding them in some way at the point of communication. We are never rightly saying, “I have received revelation from God that updates the Gospel of John. What John said needs to be corrected and updated by this revelation I have received.” Never.

On the other hand, Peter says, “Let him who speaks, speak as the oracles of God.”

The step from revelation to communication, for us, is a step in which Holy Spirit remains involved but the process doesn’t produce perfection. So, the design and intention of prophetic ministry and leadership functions within a team so that the incomplete and imperfect may be developed by colaboration, cooperation, consensus, and confidence.

Many Old Testament prophets did not seem to function in company with other prophets because their function was primarily to write to Scripture and their communication was guaranteed by inspiration of Holy Spirit. Many other Old Testament prophets did function in company because their leadership and prophetic communication was part of a process.

Prophetic leadership and function has an adjustment in the Ecclesia because prophets are part of the kingdom leadership dynamic Jesus designed to “prepare and position” members of the Body for ministry work so the Ecclesia would achieve full functionality.

Further, we need to distinguish the gift of prophecy in which all may operate from the leadership dynamic of prophets. Obviously, all may prophesy but not all are prophets; the difference comes in function of leadership. That is, the revelation, communication, interpretation, application, and implementation of prophetic process is different in some functional ways when the revelation is communicated by a prophet or apostle as opposed to an operation of the charismatic gift through another leader, intercessor, or a believer not functioning as a prophet or apostle.

Understanding the difference between Old Testament and New Testament prophetic function requires a look at both prophets who were writing Scripture and the kingdom leadership dynamics Jesus designed and bestowed upon the Ecclesia. While all the Scriptures references to prophets carry a timeline, no contradiction occurs among them because they are speaking to the function of prophets and the operations of gifts across the timeline of kingdom development. Comparing Samuel with David or Moses with Jeremiah does produce insight by their difference in assignment and function. Comparing John with Malachi, likewise, provides insight into function and assignment more than a contradiction of what prophets do or what constitutes proper or improper prophetic protocol.

Apostolic Blueprints

Paul gives revelation insight into resets of the kingdom that occurred when Jesus ascended to be with Father. Quoting prophetic words from the Psalms that mirror the moments when David brought Glory into Zion and fed the nation, Paul frames the Ascension with a sense of bringing Glory and kingdom together into function. David shifted the culture of Israel with Glory and kingdom in fuller function and established a kingdom that Jesus made eternal.

At the Ascension, with all authority in heaven and earth, Jesus bestowed His own leadership dynamics upon the Ecclesia by giving kingdom leaders to her. Apostles, prophets, teacher, evangels, and shepherds. We know that the five are distinct by this and other passages of Scripture even though we can see that teacher-shepherd appear to be blended by the way this verse is written and a special relatedness between teacher and shepherd can be verified.

The fivefold ministry is the ministry of Jesus. He had a ministry, and He gave that ministry to the Ecclesia. Then, He gave the Ecclesia leaders who make leaders so that the blueprints of this house or Body could be continuously used to expand His kingdom assemblies.

The goal of Ecclesia is to displace hell and disciples cultures. The measurement of success is the influence and impact of the Ecclesia in establishing kingdom in people and places. This measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ comes by the full function of the fivefold ministry as foundational leaders, apostles and prophets, guide the preparation and positioning of individual members of the Body or living stones of the Building.

The human body has eleven or twelve [depending upon who you ask] complex systems that must interact and interrelate cooperatively at no expense one to the other to bring the integration of complex physical systems into full function. The Spiritual Body has complex systems that must interact and interrelate cooperatively in ways that produce miraculous “perpetual motion or growth” through the integration of complex spiritual systems. “Building itself up in love” means that entropy cannot touch the properly functioning Body of Christ! The process increases without running down because it produces more than it consumes!

The function of the five aspects of Jesus’ leadership, the dynamics of kingdom leadership, can be measured for “success” by the structural integrity, spiritual integration, and statured increase of the Ecclesia.

Structural integrity speaks to the blueprint preparation and positioning of living stones. 1 Kings 6:7: The stones used to build the temple were shaped at the quarry so no sound of hammer, chisel, or iron tool was heard in the actual construction. This speaks prophetically of the proper preparation and positioning of blueprinted construction: leaders prepare and position.

Spiritual integration speaks to fulfilling the perfect blending of personal destiny with kingdom purpose. Every member, when properly and prophetically prepared and positioned fulfills his individual mandates of dominion and kingdom purpose without any contradiction or competition with another member’s fulfilling personal destiny. In this way, the kingdom purpose and the personal destiny enhance one another because the Creator and Designer calls into assemble parts of His Body so that they fit perfectly into a full expression of His stature. The Body represents because the Creator perfectly designs while His leaders prepare and position.

Statured increase speaks of the influence and impact of the Body. The Body represents Jesus in the earth so that His authority and power influence spiritual conditions and atmospheres and impact people and places. The purpose of Jesus in people and places are known and fulfilled by the increased stature of the Body, building itself up in love. Stature is the measurement of the influence and impact of Jesus on people and culture: if Jesus builds His Ecclesia, the authority of hell is displaced.

Prophetic Presbytery

Defining terms for “prophetic presbytery” is a good beginning point. The concept is being discussed, but the concept also has variants forms of meaning. Why? Because of usage of the terms in church polity and applications of the terms that are inconsistent with their use in Scripture.

We will be Biblical. We will function according to original design and intention.

The term “prophetic” refers to communication of revealed insight that applies specifically to a person, place, time, or condition. It is possible to prophesy to the wind, to the land, to the king, to a person, to a generation, to a nation. Prophetic refers to communication, however, so it is part of a process that results in writing, speaking, acting in a way that communicates, or through artistic expression communicates something revealed by Holy Spirit.

When this prophetic function comes in a presbytery, the prophetic function is being applied by experienced leaders set in place to represent in a kingdom manner.

The term “presbytery” comes from a root word for “old” but when applied to leadership has a sense of experience and representation. The simple term for “older man or woman” has a different meaning when applied to a group of representative leaders. The root word is used for the term “ambassador” twice with reference to Paul and other leaders. It has both gender forms.

Paul uses the term when writing Timothy, and this casts more direct light upon the Bible meaning and function:

“Don’t take lightly or neglect the charismata that was given you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.”

Both terms are used to describe a function of prophecy and leadership that represents the kingdom, of leaders sent to represent Jesus with authority and power equal to their assignments. The marks of these leaders would be experience and assignment. They prophesy, so they function in leadership as apostles or prophets. The group functions together, in this instance, to bestow upon Timothy a charismatic gift that Holy Spirit has decided to give Timothy.

Who can function on a prophetic presbytery like this one? Well, that would be someone who can prophesy a gift to an emerging apostle. Other prophetic presbyteries would function at the level of the prophetic leadership the people in the presbytery.

Identify Prophets for Leadership Maturity, Part 4

No one can make a person a prophet if God has not called them to be a prophet. No amount of prophetic training will make a person who hasn’t been called a prophet into a prophet. Impossible to do. Frustrating to attempt. Dysfunctional if allowed.

So, at some point, someone must identify prophets so that prophets can receive training and functional experience as prophets.

This appears to be a difficulty for many leaders because of the fallout they experience in saying “yes” or “no” about someone’s prophetic calling. This appears to be a difficulty mostly because of the question, “Who are you to make such a determination when God is One Who calls prophets?”

Consider this: Someone has to recognize and validate the calling besides the person who is called else the only standard for recognition of calling and function would be self-appointment.

Of course, I’ve encountered many self-appointed leaders of every type, stripe, and hype. I personally wouldn’t accept any self-appointed leadership functions since part of the process of leadership in the kingdom is validation by other kingdom leaders with the spiritual capacity to recognize a person’s calling, gifts, and function.

For our experience, nearly all the prophets in our prophetic company didn’t know they had a calling to function as prophets until someone else identified and clarified their calling. Each of them stepped into a process of personal preparation that clarified their spiritual gift mix and challenged their personal identity in profound ways.

Few people discuss this aspect of prophetic preparation in depth but the most telling and traumatic aspect of preparing prophets involves identity crisis. Usually, the identification of the prophet begins a turmoil of soul, a struggle or wrestling of will much like Jacob experienced, and the process touches the deepest definers of a person’s life.

We don’t wish to put people into this process who are not called to be prophets.

Beware the assumption that because we include intercession in the process of preparation that a person who is really good at prophetic intercession will eventually develop into a prophet. Beware the assumption that because we activate and train people in operation of the gift of prophecy that people who are especially good at this gift operation will eventually become prophets. Beware of jumping to the conclusion that every prophetic person should become a prophet, that every seer will develop or can develop broader applications of prophetic function.

Prophets are not only defined by calling and gifts but by disposition and assignment.

A prophetic mantle can mean that a prophetic or revelatory aspect of spiritual capacity marks a person’s more fundamental ministry function, that they carry a prophetic mantle for worship but their fundamental ministry is worship, not to be a prophet. A prophetic mantle can rest upon art, business, education, and government, to name a few senses in which a prophetic capacity can mantle a person’s life.

When Elijah threw his mantle upon Elisha, however, it was clearly the identification of a young man’s calling that surprised Elisha, a moment of personal clarity that began a process of personal preparation.