Question:

Hello,

I have been reading the La Vista Church of Christ web site articles and answers for over a year now and have even visited a few sister churches that I found through this web site. I greatly appreciate the wisdom and insight that I find through this web site! Now I have a question I can't seem to find answers to on my own.

I am a member of the International Churches of Christ. I am currently attending in Georgia. I am a part of the campus ministry and as a baptized disciple I am required to participate in something called Discipleship Time. Discipleship Time is when I get together once a week with a sister in the church that was assigned to be my discipleship partner. We meet one-on-one and discuss my life and convictions, and she basically gives me advice on how to improve. Although I believe this discipleship time can be beneficial to spiritual growth, I cannot find proof in the Bible that Discipleship Time is actually biblical. Discipleship Time has been explained to me as a Christian requirement because it is biblical but I cannot find anything to back that up. My discipleship partner gave me scriptures to prove that it is biblical (Acts 2:46, Luke 14:27, Matthew 28:18, Hebrews 10:25) but these did not strike me as proof that discipleship time really is a biblical thing.

My questions are: Is Discipleship Time really a biblical thing? Should I be required to have these meetings as a Christian?

Thanks so much,


Answer:

While historically the International Church of Christ came out of the churches of Christ, they are not the same group. See: How are you different from the International Church of Christ?

"So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart" (Acts 2:46). This verse tells us that Christians spent time with each other -- not assigned to be with a particular person; instead we find an general intermixing as they went from house to house.

"And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:27). Here Jesus is telling people that being a Christian isn't always easy, so if a person isn't willing to bear the hardships of being a Christian, they cannot be his disciple. This has nothing to do with requiring spending time with an assigned mentor.

"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth"" (Matthew 28:18). That Jesus has all authority does not imply that those who follow Jesus have equivalent authority. Jesus makes our laws, not men.

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25). This is referring to gathering of the church, not individual studies.

Therefore, you are correct that none of these passages prove what is being claimed. If these are the passages offered, then you are dealing with a person who is trying to distract by giving the appearance of authority. The hope is to overwhelm a person with references and then count on the fact that most people are too lazy to verify the references. See: Reasoning Without Truth.

It isn't a bad thing to talk to others about the problems you are facing. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). But the International Church of Christ formalizes this, insisting that you only talk to the mentor assigned to you. Yet, look at the passage again and notice that it is the person with the problem who chooses who he wishes to talk to. The things you discuss with your mentor are not kept between you and she alone, they are passed up the chain. The result is that the leadership of the International Church of Christ use the information to control its membership. See: The International Church of Christ From Man or God?

The result is that in formalizing man-made rules in an attempt to follow God's laws, the result is not adherence to God but to man. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10).

Thank you for your reply.

I agree with everything you have said and what I have read in the links you provided. I have experienced the things mentioned in the articles, and I have been wanting to get out of this church for a little while because of these things.

The problem is that I grew up in this church and my family has been going to this church since before I was born. In fact, my parents were living in Boston and baptized in the Boston Movement, so I have heard stories about it. I am 19, so I still live with my parents as I go to college and seek employment in my career field. If I make a decision to leave this church, my family will think I am a weak Christian or sinful for going to a different church and will very plainly show that and try to bring me back to this church.

I don't want to cause strife in my family, but I do need to do what is right for my own relationship with God. What would be the right thing to do in this case? For now, I had decided to continue attending the church but put my foot down for things I don't agree with as well as continue building my own convictions through the Bible. I have a goal to save money and hopefully move out with a close friend within a year, so I can start my life without pressure from my family or the church. I thought maybe after I no longer relied on my parents for anything, then I could express my thoughts on what is going wrong at the church.

Thanks for your help.

You are facing the same difficult decision faced by all people when they realize they are in the wrong religion. Jesus said the following primarily to people facing the prospect of leaving the Jewish religion to become Christians, but it applies in numerous similar situations.

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:34-39).

The trouble with family not accepting truth is balanced by the relationship Christians have with each other.

"So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life"" (Mark 10:29-30).

These passages show that you are not alone in this sort of situation. If you need help locating a good congregation, just let me know what city you are near.