Discipleship can be a buzz word in the church and various church planting movements. Mike Breen wisely pointed out that the so-called missional church movement will fail if we fail to multiply disciples. Yet, the next problem up is making discipleship the latest buzz word and seeing the evangelical-industrial machine pump out curriculums from the latest celebrity pastors.
The church today needs to return to the Acts 2:42-47 model for making disciples, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a couple of imaginative helps along the way. One help I found last year on Youtube from the Smarter Every Day channel. In this particular episode, Destin Sandlin does an experiment to figure out how his brain functions when it has to master a new skill.
Destin takes a bicycle and has some welders tweek it so that turning the steering one way now makes the front wheel go in the opposite direction.
Destin figured this simple change would take some getting used to but that if his brain knew this change then it would’t take long to master this new bicycle.
After eight months of trying to ride this bike up and down his driveway, it ‘clicked’ for Destin. His brain ‘figured it out’ and he began to ride this bicycle as if it was normal.
Destin would take this bicycle around the country and challenge folks to ride this bike ten feet and earn $200. No one could ride it even a couple of feet.
While in Amsterdam some months later (where there are more bikes than people), Destin went back to the normal bike after spending twenty minutes for his brain to retrain itself.
This experiment didn’t end with Destin. It took his six-year-old son only two weeks to figure out how to ride this backwards bike, demonstrating the plasticity of a child’s brain compared to an adult’s.
Destin gives three concluding points at the end of this fascinating video that seem to directly tie into discipleship.
1. Welders are smarter than engineers.
2. Knowledge does not equal understanding.
3. Truth is truth.
If welders are local pastor-directors who reshape particular Christians into disciples who are on the Way as opposed to engineers who are specialized curriculum and celebrity pastors who seem to have ‘made it’ on a grander scale, then welders are smarter than engineers. Discipleship begins in the local space and place, not a podcast or conference.
Discipleship isn’t mere head knowledge. It is wisdom (understanding). It is those moments for when it ‘clicks’ for Christians that the way of Jesus looks this way and not that way (Psalm 1).
The model of Acts 2:42-47 is time-tested and true. Even when it doesn’t look spectacular or true, it is true. God works through his Word, sacraments, prayer, and people.
My calling as a pastor is to help the issues of discipleship ‘click’ for my people. It may take months for some and weeks for others. But the Holy Spirit will make it click for all.