Our youngest son, Jordan, was married back in May. Weddings, even simple ones, require a lot of planning and expense. They include rings, invitations, dresses and tuxedos, flowers and decorations, cake and food, gifts and honeymoon plans, photographer and pictures, and much much more.
Weddings are celebrations and rites of passage. The bride and groom move from singleness to oneness. They join hearts, hands, and households. Weddings are front doors for the marriage journey.
There are many parallels for the disciple-making journey in a family. Consider the terminology for the church: the bride of Christ. Think about a few of those parallels:
- A wedding and marriage begin with a desire to be with the potential spouse for the rest of life. In a similar way, the discipleship journey begins with desiring the Lord and His way more than our own. It is a desire to spend time together for all of life and eternity.
- Engagement is a time of making commitment to each other. It precedes the wedding and marriage. Likewise, a profession of faith is a time of repentance and committing to Jesus as Lord. The profession of faith precedes baptism and the discipleship journey.
- Engagement (commitment) leads to a planning for and conducting a wedding ceremony, a public celebration of that commitment to each other. The profession of faith leads to a ceremony (baptism) which is a public celebration and communication of the inward commitment.
- Gifts are given to the bride and groom to help them begin their married journey together. New Christians receive the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts to enable them to serve well during the discipleship journey with the body of Christ.
- Honeymoon trips are often planned for the couple to celebrate the beginning of the marriage relationship. In a similar way, new Christians are strengthened early in their journey when an Encourager/Mentor walks with them during the early weeks, talking about daily quiet time and discipleship life practices. This establishes early intimacy with the Lord.
- Communication is necessary for the wedding, honeymoon, and marriage. All three will be more difficult or impossible with poor or no communication. Similarly, communication with God and with the body of Christ is necessary for the baptism and growth of the disciple.
What other parallels occur to you? Where might discipleship efforts be strengthened as you reflect on how your church begins and does discipleship? Poor starts often produce poor results! Give God and His people your best efforts. Make disciples!