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Discipling Lifestyle – Up-In-Out
We believe that Jesus’ plan for discipleship is the single best way to change the world for the better. This page describes one of the tools we use for understanding discipleship. Jesus' plan for discipleship according to scripture was pretty simple: making disciple making disciples. (Mt. 28:19-20 & 2 Tim. 2:2)
I Corinthians 4:16-17 Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church. See also Luke 6:12-19.
The word "Discipleship" has represented a central ideal for the church from the very beginning. But like many common words, we forget what it means.
A disciple imitates the master. The pattern we observe for making disciples in the New Testament is rooted in imitation. Dallas Willard defined discipleship this way: “Discipleship is learning from Jesus how to live like Jesus.” This is exactly what we see the twelve disciples doing in the gospels. By being with Jesus, they learned from Jesus how to think, act, and live like he did. The twelve disciples watched Jesus, imitated Jesus, and invited others to imitate Jesus by imitating them. That started a movement that is still spreading around the world today.
Within the pages of scripture we can easily recognize three key dimensions of Jesus life-style. We call these dimensions “Up-In-Out”.
Dimension 1: Up – Jesus spent time with the Father. Many times, we read about Jesus praying. He spoke with the Father. He listened to the Father. And Jesus engaged regularly in worship and praise on his own and in formal gatherings at the synagogue and temple. In Acts, we see the apostles and the early church doing the same things wherever they went.
Dimension 2: In— Jesus spent time very intentionally with a small group. He invested in a limited number of people in order that they would have a greater impact and at the same time, showed them a model for impacting others. He let them in and took them with him. They knew one another, served one another, and loved one another. They did life together like family. We see this implied in the life of the Jerusalem church and very clearly in the Apostle Paul’s journeys and letters.
Dimension 3: Out- Jesus also met the needs he saw in the world around him with the God’s love, grace, and power, often taking his disciples with him as he did. He healed the sick, touched the lepers, fed the hungry, and opened blind eyes and deaf ears. And, he proclaimed the Kingdom of God, inviting people to turn from their old ways toward new life. In the book of Acts, the followers of Jesus did the very same things Jesus had been doing. They had learned from Jesus how to live, minister, and serve like Jesus. And they passed it on.
was the way Jesus lived with his disciples and as followers of Jesus, we are called to have those same dimensions in our lives. This is not just an individual discipline. While we are called to follow Jesus individually, we are also called to follow him in community. We are called to sustain an Up-In-Out lifestyle in fellowship with others. This requires some intentionality. It is easy for a group to do one or two of the dimensions together and neglect the others. We need all three.
The Up-In-Out pattern of life helps us to live like Jesus— enjoying a full and balanced life. We can use it to evaluate our own walks with Jesus. How is each dimension in your own life? Are all three dimensions evident and in balance across the board? What is going well? What needs attention? It is also a helpful tool for developing a rhythm for families, life groups, huddles, and our worship services.
When it comes to finding a church in which to affiliate, people often use the standards that fall in line with cultural values: if a church has plenty of programs and a lot of people are coming, we might think it’s the place to be. But if we want to follow Jesus, we must look for ministries and churches that help us or challenge us to live a balanced life in terms of Up, In, and Out. That will lead us to live more like Jesus – which is really the ultimate purpose of our lives and the church.
Perhaps most important: When we embrace an up-in-out lifestyle for our life groups and huddles and ministries, we naturally help one another follow Jesus. Thus, we have a bigger impact in the world, and we naturally disciple those we bring into our communities as they do life with us.
Questions for reflection:
1) Most people are better in one or two of the dimensions rather than at all three. What about you? Where are your strengths? What about weaknesses? Why do you think that is?
2) Ministries can be or become unbalanced. What about the churches or Christian groups with which you are familiar? What are their strengths and weaknesses in terms of Up, In, and Out?
3) What steps can you take to be more intentional about incorporating each dimension of Jesus into your life? If you are in a huddle, life group, bible study, or ministry what ways do you need to be intentional in order to have more balance in your lifestyle of discipleship?
4) Luke 6:12-19 shows us a day in the life of Jesus. The short passage contains all three dimensions. Read through it and try to identify Up, In, and Out in Jesus’ day. What do you observe and what can you observe from the way Jesus does Up-In-Out? Is God calling you to do anything about it?
5) Is God saying anything to you in this article? What will you do about it?