Discipleship as Becoming Jesus’ Apprentice

If you’ve read much of Dallas Willard (Spirit of the Disciplines, Divine Conspiracy, and The Renovation of the Heart are key texts) you know of his preference for the word “apprentice” over disciple. The latter has become so Christianized it has lost its original content. As followers of Jesus we are his apprentices: we spend time with him, watch what he does, and then do it ourselves. In a recent Leadership Journal Dallas Willard and Dieter Zander discuss how this works out in the church. Here’s just a taste from Zander’s final comment:

When we moved to San Francisco, we lived on a street where our neighbors included an atheist Jewish family, a Buddhist family, an Irish Catholic family, a gay family, and a Hindu family. There was no sense of community, so we decided to become conduits of the kingdom by practicing the discipline of hospitality. We learned people’s names and used them. We introduced neighbors to each other. And something began to happen.

My atheist Jewish neighbor came into my kitchen once and said, “You know, something has happened since you all moved to this neighborhood. It’s hard to describe, but it’s like an enzyme has been added. Where once there was no life, now there’s life. What is that?” And I said, “That’s the gospel of Jesus being lived out in our lives.”

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