Discipleship: The Need for a Paradigm Shift

I write these words with the assumption that most people reading them are fairly serious about Jesus.  After all, this is a site on “Following Jesus Together”.  I suspect most of us would describe ourselves as loving Jesus, serving Jesus or preaching Jesus.  We would like to think of ourselves as being a follower of Jesus Christ.


The question we’ve been asking is why don’t we make or produce more disciples fully devoted to Jesus?  Why do we produce people committed to a cause, a set of beliefs, a church or a denomination but not committed to the person of Jesus Christ?  Why don’t we produce more people who recognize and connect with Jesus on a regular basis?  Where are those disciples who live their lives by the indwelling life of Jesus?  People serious about Jesus will be serious about asking these kinds of questions.


We previously noted two hindrances to producing fully devoted disciples:

  • It is our intent to produce people committed to a set of beliefs, practices, church or denomination.  We intend to produce what we are producing.  We must change our definition of a disciple.
  • Like produces like.  We cannot reproduce what we are not.


We need a paradigm shift.


In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolution, and fathered, defined and popularized the concept of “paradigm shift” (p.10). Kuhn argues that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a “series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions”, and in those revolutions “one conceptual world view is replaced by another.


Think of a paradigm shift as a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.”


(Borrowed from the website Journey Well which has nothing to do with following Jesus.)


We need to change the way we think about making disciples.  We need to redefine in our own minds what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  We must not settle for producing followers of us, good church members or even effective leaders.  Our goal is to make disciples who hear the voice of Jesus and follow HIM (obey what has and is commanding).  These disciples live by his life and his life is reproduced in them.


This change in thinking will not come easy.  It will not come suddenly.  It may not come quickly.

  • Ask Jesus for wisdom and understanding.  Don’t take my word for it, take his.  We need never fear truth.
  • Read the Scriptures with “fresh eyes”.
  • Notice how Jesus lived by the life of the Father and the Father’s life was reproduced in him.
  • Notice what Paul writes about living by the life of Jesus and when he writes “for me to live is Christ”.
  • Read authors who challenge your thinking on discipleship, the Kingdom of God, the community called church, etc. and be ready to step outside your comfort zone.


We know from the Scriptures that if our thinking is wrong our behavior will be wrong as well.  We need a paradigm shift in disciple making.


Click on the link (or copy and past) and check out a short video which illustrates a paradigm shift.




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