Mission Vs. Discipleship

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Talking about Mission vs. Discipleship and I have been noodling some dumb ideas for a couple weeks. A couple weeks ago when I was mowing the lawn for the last time this year, an analogy presented itself, and so I thought I would share that as a way of expressing how mission and discipleship work in the Body of Christ.

My analogy is that of an orchestra or other musical group. Mission is like the performance. We share our love for the music, and the composer with others who are not in our ensemble. Our mission is to help as many as possible take up an instrument.

Discipleship comes in two forms: 1) individual practice – me studying my part, and practicing over and over, until I can express the music faithfully, as the composer envisioned it. 2) group practice – the whole ensemble playing together under direction of the conductor or leader to ensure that the timing and volume is right and the ensemble knows what to do.

So here is what is missing in this analogy. Leadership – what is the role of leadership in mission and discipleship. Leadership selects the music that is going to be performed. Leadership organizes the group practice sessions, and holds the group accountable for individual practice.

In order to be effective, leadership has to know about the music. It must know how the music is supposed to sound, and be able to identify specific deficiencies or errors to maintain the desired sonorities. Leadership needs to know what parts each player is to play, and when each player is to be prominent. In larger ensembles, and depending on instrumentation, there are often behind the scenes roles that must be played setting up and tearing down venues, managing and operating equipment, transportation. Leadership must orchestrate these as well to ensure the performance is “true”.

Leadership must also select the players, assigning each to a role. Leadership may be responsible for music education, ensuring that players have the proper training, and understanding of music theory, to correctly represent the tune, the melody, the harmony, the rhythm, etc.

So what is God’s role in this analogy? God is the composer. He has created the music for each to play, sometimes solo, sometimes in ensembles. He also created the appreciation for music in each of us. We all appreciate the “true” performance and it induces emotional responses.

So what about us? We believers are to participate in the mission. Some of us are more suited to working behind the scenes. Others of us are higly gifted and talented musicians. Each of us must develop our skills and techniques so that we can participate in the mission, the sharing of the “true” music with others so that they can ultimately share our love of the Composer. if we don’t practice and refine our skills, we may misrepresent the Composer and the music would suffer. You see, the musical instruments we possess and manipulate are only useful when they play the music true. When we add our own flourishes and improvisation, when we deviate from the score, when we try to outshine the Composer, the music suffers, and the audience appreciates the musician more than the Composer.

We all play in different ensembles, some times on the street, other times in a cathedral, other times in rowdy bars and taverns, still others at sporting events and government ceremonies. But our playing should always be humble and honoring to the Composer. Some of us play vocationally, others as a hobby, still others only for our friends and family. Some of us have become famous for our performance, or as leaders of ensembles that are consistent and true. Others have less musical talent, but truly appreciate it, and are happy to work behind the scenes with our favorite ensemble, or helping the leaders with administration. Some of us spend our energy simply inviting others to hear the music, and telling everyone about how great the music is.

So what do you think of this analogy? Did it resonate with you? Please leave a comment below.

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