DIGITAL DISCIPLESHIP? – is it even possible…

DIGITAL DISCIPLESHIP? – is it even possible…
Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

Discipleship is a key purpose of the church, but defining how to make a disciple is a bit like nailing potluck Jell-O to a church flannel graph. Moving a baby Christian toward maturity is no easier than raising a child. Lots of parents have lots of opinions on how to raise children. Just as many church leaders have differing takes on what it means to train a dedicated disciple within the body of Christ. Discipleship is messy. You change a lot of figurative diapers.

It’s an oversimplification, but discipleship at its core is helping someone become more like Christ. Discipleship happens within the body of Christ as more mature believers train and equip those who are less mature. Can you disciple someone digitally? Of course! Tools like Ministry Grid are quite helpful in simplifying training within the church. Digital discipleship can’t be the sole method of equipping the saints, but using digital tools can augment the process of making disciples.

While I believe digital discipleship is beneficial to churches, let me offer three warnings:

1. Digital discipleship brings with it the temptation of isolation. I know I’m stating the obvious: Discipleship is always connected to a local church. The point of discipleship is to train up people within the body of Christ. A member severed from the body is gruesome. As with any digital tool, the temptation is to isolate the person from others. This isolation works for some industries—ATMs are convenient ways of getting cash at all hours without needing a bank teller. Isolation from the church, however, is a dangerous temptation because it creates a loner mentality.

2. Digital discipleship should not replace the gathering of people in the church. The Internet is not a church and never will be. You can’t have an online-only marriage. That’s a simulation, not a relationship. The same goes for the church. Digital discipleship is an excellent tool for enhancing a relationship that already exists. When discipleship becomes digital-only, it’s merely a simulation of the real thing.

3. Digital discipleship will not make the process of growing up believers any easier. Discipleship is hard work. Digital tools make discipleship better, not easier. If your goal with digital discipleship is to make growing believers easier, then you’re just being lazy. It won’t work. Scripture is quite clear. There is no easy path with discipleship.

Discipleship is the process of people in the church becoming more like Christ. Digital tools can assist—but not replace—the church in this process. Discipleship is never easy. Teaching people to pick up their crosses and follow Christ is hugely important but also complicated. Digital tools can help. Just don’t use them to replace the very body people should be in.

19 Comments

  • Daniel J Hesse
    Reply November 18, 2019

    Daniel J Hesse

    Good question

  • Lyndsey Dunn
    Reply November 18, 2019

    Lyndsey Dunn

    Digital Discipleship is working great for the enemy. This shows the reality of the tech and effectiveness of tools for creating online community and movements. Whether the church accepts it or not people will continue to connect with each other and organizations online.

    • Troy Day
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Troy Day

      ha @lindsey dunn WHY would you say something like that Do you have rock solid proof for it?

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Someone would have to be living in a hole to not see almost every major organization in the world using digital means for essentially discipling their constituents. Disney, Nike, TikTok, fortnight, Xbox live, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. the music industries primary influence is online. Video entertainments primary means online. Business advertising and branding online. Almost every major public figure uses podcast, YouTube, texting and email to foster their followings. The old school mentality of everything digital being unreal and disconnected is wrong. Relationships are started online, people have online communities, churches are online, schools are online, people shop on Amazon while malls close. The real danger is in the church staying in the dark ages unable to show the love of Christ in a very real digital mission field. The next two years will see a massive leap in tech beyond what most realize. Let’s be like Billy Graham using TV and movies when they see evil. Let’s spread the gospel to people the way they communicate and consume information everyday. It will always change but the gospel never will. Also, I love the irony of this discussion being in a Facebook Group online!

    • Troy Day
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Troy Day

      Lyndsey Dunn I actually read both your posts several times and still dont get your point Are you saying NO media in church period?

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Opposite. My first post shows proof of these tools in their effectiveness used by the world. My second post expounds showing “solid rock proof” the effective use of digital tools in connecting and leading people.

    • Troy Day
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Troy Day

      Lyndsey Dunn I honestly dont think that what you are saying is possible at all Are you talking discipleship?

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Not only is it possible, it has been going on for years. Try convincing organizations like Life.Church that it is not possible. The use of video, livestream, virtual meetings, online midweek bible studies , apps, and on and on it goes. Even elderly shut ins are connecting to church communities online. I’ve used the Bible app to lead online devotionals through live video in organized Facebook groups and for an elderly congregation.

  • Troy Day
    Reply November 18, 2019

    Troy Day

    lets start again Lyndsey Dunn did you READ the article It is NOT about media in general NEITHER it is about the aim of this here group; It addresses digital discipleship in particular A very important process for Millenials today you and many others may have NOT experienced The 3 warnings from the article are very very valid Pls read them

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Troy Day I don’t see any writing on the link just pics and a headline.

    • Troy Day
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Troy Day

      Lyndsey Dunn oh dear but your produced a BOOK without reading it first 🙂

      Discipleship is a key purpose of the church, but defining how to make a disciple is a bit like nailing potluck Jell-O to a church flannel graph. Moving a baby Christian toward maturity is no easier than raising a child. Lots of parents have lots of opinions on how to raise children. Just as many church leaders have differing takes on what it means to train a dedicated disciple within the body of Christ. Discipleship is messy. You change a lot of figurative diapers.

      It’s an oversimplification, but discipleship at its core is helping someone become more like Christ. Discipleship happens within the body of Christ as more mature believers train and equip those who are less mature. Can you disciple someone digitally? Of course! Tools like Ministry Grid are quite helpful in simplifying training within the church. Digital discipleship can’t be the sole method of equipping the saints, but using digital tools can augment the process of making disciples.

      While I believe digital discipleship is beneficial to churches, let me offer three warnings:

      1. Digital discipleship brings with it the temptation of isolation. I know I’m stating the obvious: Discipleship is always connected to a local church. The point of discipleship is to train up people within the body of Christ. A member severed from the body is gruesome. As with any digital tool, the temptation is to isolate the person from others. This isolation works for some industries—ATMs are convenient ways of getting cash at all hours without needing a bank teller. Isolation from the church, however, is a dangerous temptation because it creates a loner mentality.

      2. Digital discipleship should not replace the gathering of people in the church. The Internet is not a church and never will be. You can’t have an online-only marriage. That’s a simulation, not a relationship. The same goes for the church. Digital discipleship is an excellent tool for enhancing a relationship that already exists. When discipleship becomes digital-only, it’s merely a simulation of the real thing.

      3. Digital discipleship will not make the process of growing up believers any easier. Discipleship is hard work. Digital tools make discipleship better, not easier. If your goal with digital discipleship is to make growing believers easier, then you’re just being lazy. It won’t work. Scripture is quite clear. There is no easy path with discipleship.

      Discipleship is the process of people in the church becoming more like Christ. Digital tools can assist—but not replace—the church in this process. Discipleship is never easy. Teaching people to pick up their crosses and follow Christ is hugely important but also complicated. Digital tools can help. Just don’t use them to replace the very body people should be in.

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Troy Day you may want to be careful generalizing an age group with lack of discipleship. I have been disciples my whole life and made disciples. My main struggle as a current pastor of an elderly church is that they have never had discipleship. My strategic plan is centered around creating a discipleship process.

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Troy Day I disagree with your presumption that the church is only a body of people in the four walls, and that digital relationships are simulated. The church is the body of believers they can be the church online and many are. People are friends online. People communicate online. Teens hang out online not at the mall like 20 years ago. They really are friends and really spend time together online in real life. Banks will one day be removed by blockchain technology, malls are closing, real estate is online not just property you buy. Buildings are no longer needed in the same way for all organizations as in the past. My primary focus has been discipleship my whole life. And yes even online. 15 years of youth ministry showed a change from discipleship workbooks and weekly meetings to apps and online meetings. People across the world are being discipled online. I’m real life not simulated. Anything you can accomplish in a brick church you can accomplish online. Online greeters, prayer warriors, pastors, fellowship, giving, worship, services, bible studies, music production, art production, project management, teaching, education, I can go on.

    • Troy Day
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Troy Day

      Lyndsey Dunn my presumption? where is this coming from? Did you read the article at all

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Troy Day discipleship is not only done in an institutionalized building. Many church members die in their old age never having made a disciple. They were taught dependence on a building and a pastor. Discipleship is tie to Jesus through other believers. Those believers are the church whether they are slaves to dead institutions or not. Church needs reformation, revolution, and revival.

    • Troy Day
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Troy Day

      Lyndsey Dunn I did not write the article Simply polled the group for opinion if you think the 3 traps are not realistic I would love to hear your take on them sometimes

    • Lyndsey Dunn
      Reply November 18, 2019

      Lyndsey Dunn

      Troy Day digital communities are working on many levels. Isolation is defaulted but defeated. People meet online in real life with no buildings as the church. Discipleship should be second nature to every believer no matter how they do it. The argument of being easy is relative and mostly just reflects the negative attitude toward tech world more than making an actual point in relationship to discipleship effectiveness.

    • Troy Day
      Reply November 19, 2019

      Troy Day

      Some basic stats highlight why this tool can be a fruitful opportunity for everyday evangelization.
      1.09 billion people log onto Facebook daily (DAU) – March 2016, which represents a 16% increase year over year. (Source: Facebook as 4/27/16)
      Worldwide, over 1 Billion registered Facebook users. (Source: April 2016 Facebook) What this means for you: In case you had any lingering doubts, statistically, Facebook is too big to ignore. Facebook is here for the long haul. How it is used for the sake of the Gospel is up to us.
      Age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic. (Source: Emarketer 2012) In religious terms, Facebook can be considered as a means to contact young adults a prime target demographic for today’s church. You have a chance to engage these key Millennials on Facebook.
      Facebook users are 76% female and 66% male. (Source: Brandwatch) The Takeaway: Since this isn’t a large statistical difference, you should be able to effectively reach both genders on Facebook. Both genders present an evangelizing ministerial opportunity.
      Average time spent per Facebook visit is 20 minutes. (Source: Infodocket) What this means for you: You have a short time period to make your impression, so use it wisely with relevant, interesting and unique posts to get the most return on your efforts.

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