By guest blogger Dr. Dave Daubert, parish pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Elgin, Illinois and lead consultant for Day 8 Strategies.
The new Discipleship Guide for Lutherans are an exciting new release. After months of work, the language and quotes have been edited and modified to speak clearly to people who live out their Christian faith in a Lutheran language.
It is ironic that Lutherans and many other mainline traditions have struggled to emphasize discipleship. Perhaps the emphasis on grace being a free gift has been the cause. But people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer make the list of approved Lutheran heroes and his most famous work is perhaps The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer is admired because he was a great thinker who actually lived out his discipleship and is admired because of it. We know this is important and core to our tradition. But we also struggle to help people dig in deeply and practice this in their lives.
You may wonder why something like discipleship guides even need to be customized into language for specific theological or denominational traditions. But in spite of all Christians tracing their origins back to the ministry of Jesus, the many paths that have emerged have resulted in a variety of ways to understand that ministry and an even wider variety of ways to talk about it. In fact, even traditions that use the same language often have very different understandings about the definition of a shared word. It is as if there are many dialects within the Christian family of vocabulary.
Just think about a Lutheran, a Calvinist, a Roman Catholic, and a Baptist discussing how they understand communion. While they would all agree in some way that it was important, they would disagree on how important, how to emphasize it, how to practice it and what was actually happening when they shared communion. In fact, probably more arguments can be started over diverging definitions and practices for communion (and baptism) than almost any other topic. In fact, many of these groups even refuse to commune together as a result of this (a sad truth about church life).
This means that to communicate well with a particular audience, often we need to be clear about who the audience is and how they understand various Christian themes. We need to ground it, when possible, in the work of people from within their tradition while also stretching them by exposing them to a wider circle of voices – but in ways they can connect with and benefit from. It needs to come to them in their dialect, so they can access it and understand.
The Lutheran discipleship series covers eight core topics for growing disciples and each topic has five sessions. They are a great chance for personal or small group discipling in a Lutheran setting and people from Lutheran traditions will recognize both the voice of Christ and a Lutheran dialect as they work through them.
The full set of Lutheran guides is available in four printed volumes.
- Experiencing God and Spiritual Responsiveness
- Sacrificial Service and Generous Living
- Authentic Relationships and Personal Transformation
- Disciplemaking and Community Transformation