Reflection on Greg Ogden’s Transforming Discipleship

Introduction

This semester is bringing many things into alignment. I am currently taking Spiritual Leadership, Prayer and a teaching internship in addition to this class. In this mix I read Greg Ogden’s Transforming Discipleship and felt convicted that discipleship is very much missing in my current journey, I viscerally feel the lack of a discipling relationship, and sad that Ogden seems to be entirely internally focused. In this paper I will examine my conviction from the perspective of my needs for personal accountability and the need to draw others into their roles in the body of Christ. I will also examine Ogden’s glaring omission, briefly touch on what I will need to change about Ogden’s approach to fit my convictions as a Quaker and will put together a covenant of discipleship to invite others into with me.

Conviction

It is time for a confession here: I have not been in a relationship in which I was intentionally discipling someone since I came to seminary three and a half years ago. As I read Ogden I felt that old evangelical guilt trip creeping up behind me and the messages from various pulpits clamored in my subconscious. The reality for me is that I have been questioning much of the language of “evangelism” and “discipleship” as part of my growth away from an internally focused faith that exists to promote the institution of “church” rather than the body of Christ. Part of what made reading Ogden so difficult was my own antipathy to a strictly spiritual “good news” that amounted to becoming fire-insurance salespeople. Now that I have named the baggage I brought to the book, I would like to say that Ogden pushes back on those same forces and really convicted me that I am in danger of throwing out the growth of the kingdom in my rejection of people focused solely on the spiritual end of that growth. It is truly urgent that we are developing people as followers of Christ. Ogden has definitely encouraged me to get out there and develop others with the call to discipling.

Ogden’s Omission

While Ogden does a great job of making the case for leading discipleship relationships, I found his focus to be on people who were already part of a church. While I completely agree that people inside our churches are woefully under-discipled, the focus of the church must be outside the church. Ogden briefly talks about the mission of the church, but only in one small part of one chapter, the rest of the book is focused on people who are already inside the church. Ogden pointed out that Jesus chose misfits as disciples, but neglects to point out that these were all people who had little to no connection with the religious authorities of their day. In Ogden’s section on transformation he talks about personal transformation and focuses on that as the chief end of discipleship. I would disagree in that transformation of everyone and everything is the goal of discipleship, that we become agents of transformation, not just pockets of the transformed or those undergoing transformation.

In My Context

In order to translate Ogden into my context, I will need to make sure that the focus of these groups is interaction with the world around us and looking for ways we can translate transformation into our relationships. The group will need to be developing people into part of the community of ministers, and helping everyone discern their call to ministry as a part of the community

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