THEOLOGY OF DISCIPLESHIP: IT’S UNDERSTANDING AND PRACTICE IN EZZA DISTRICT OF ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA
Background to the Study
The theology of discipleship is a critical aspect of Christian faith and practice. It is the process of learning and growing in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ, and then living out that knowledge in daily life. The concept of discipleship is deeply rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ, who called his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). This call to discipleship is not just about personal spiritual growth, but also about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others and helping them grow in their faith (Bonhoeffer, 1959).
The understanding and practice of discipleship in the church have evolved over time. In the early church, discipleship was a communal practice, with believers living together and sharing everything in common (Acts 2:44-47). This model of discipleship emphasized the importance of community and mutual support in the Christian journey. However, over time, the practice of discipleship has become more individualistic, focusing on personal spiritual growth and development (Hull, 2006).
Despite this shift towards individualism, many theologians and church leaders argue for a return to a more communal understanding of discipleship. They argue that discipleship is not just about personal spiritual growth, but also about being part of a community of believers who support and encourage each other in their faith journey (Wilkins, 2010). This communal understanding of discipleship is seen as more in line with the teachings of Jesus and the practices of the early church.
The practice of discipleship in the church also involves a commitment to service and social justice. Jesus’ teachings and actions demonstrated a concern for the poor and marginalized, and he called his disciples to follow his example (Luke 4:18-19). Therefore, discipleship involves not just spiritual growth, but also a commitment to serving others and working for justice in the world (Sider, 2005).
However, the practice of discipleship in the church is not without its challenges. One of the main challenges is the tension between the call to discipleship and the pressures of modern life. Many Christians struggle to balance their commitment to discipleship with the demands of work, family, and other responsibilities (Hybels, 2010). This tension can lead to a superficial understanding and practice of discipleship, where it becomes just another activity to fit into a busy schedule, rather than a way of life.
The theology of discipleship is a critical aspect of Christian faith and practice. It involves a commitment to learning and growing in the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ, and then living out that knowledge in daily life. The understanding and practice of discipleship in the church have evolved over time, but the core principles of community, service, and commitment to Jesus Christ remain the same.
Statement of the Problem
The problem of understanding and practicing the theology of discipleship in the church is a complex issue that has been the subject of much debate. The concept of discipleship is central to Christian faith, yet its interpretation and application vary widely among different Christian communities (Hull, 2006). This variation can lead to confusion and inconsistency in the practice of discipleship, which can, in turn, affect the spiritual growth and development of believers.
The lack of a clear, universally accepted definition of discipleship is one of the main problems. While some view discipleship as a process of spiritual growth and development, others see it as a call to service and mission (Wilkins, 2010). This lack of consensus can lead to differing expectations and practices within the church, potentially causing conflict and division.
Another problem is the lack of practical guidance on how to live out discipleship in daily life. Many believers struggle to translate the theological concept of discipleship into practical actions (Bonhoeffer, 2003). This gap between theory and practice can lead to a disconnect between what believers profess and how they live, undermining the credibility of the church.
The role of the church in facilitating discipleship is also a contentious issue. Some argue that the church should play a central role in guiding and supporting believers in their discipleship journey (Hull, 2006). Others, however, believe that discipleship is a personal responsibility that should be pursued independently of the church (Wilkins, 2010). This disagreement can lead to confusion and inconsistency in the church’s approach to discipleship.
The influence of culture on discipleship is another problem. The cultural context in which discipleship is practiced can significantly affect its interpretation and application (Hiebert, 2008). This cultural influence can lead to a distortion of the biblical concept of discipleship, potentially leading to practices that are inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus.
Finally, the lack of research on the theology of discipleship is a significant problem. Despite its importance, discipleship has received relatively little attention in theological scholarship (Bonhoeffer, 2003). This lack of research limits our understanding of discipleship and hinders the development of effective discipleship practices in the church.
Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of the study is to examine the Theology of Discipleship: It’s understanding and Practice in Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria. The specific objectives are:
- To investigate the theological understanding of discipleship in a broader Christian context.
- To examine the practical application of discipleship principles in the church setting.
- To identify the challenges and barriers to effective discipleship within the church.
- To evaluate the impact of discipleship on individual spiritual growth and the overall health of the church.
The research questions are buttressed below:
- What is the theological understanding of discipleship in a broader Christian context?
- How are discipleship principles practically applied in the church setting?
- What are the challenges and barriers to effective discipleship within the church?
- What is the impact of discipleship on individual spiritual growth and the overall health of the church?
Significance of the Study
The study of the theology of discipleship and its understanding and practice in the Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria holds significant implications for both the local church and the broader Christian community. Firstly, it provides an in-depth understanding of the theological basis of discipleship within this specific context. This understanding can help church leaders and members to align their discipleship practices with their theological beliefs, thereby enhancing the authenticity and effectiveness of their discipleship efforts.
Secondly, this study can contribute to the broader discourse on discipleship in the Christian community. By examining the unique context of the Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria, it can offer fresh insights and perspectives that can enrich the understanding of discipleship in different cultural and denominational contexts.
Thirdly, the study can serve as a valuable resource for church leaders and members in the Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria. The findings can inform the development of discipleship programs and strategies that are contextually relevant and effective. This can lead to improved discipleship outcomes, such as increased spiritual growth and church health.
Fourthly, the study can also have practical implications for the church. By identifying the challenges and barriers to effective discipleship, it can guide the church in addressing these issues and enhancing the effectiveness of their discipleship efforts.
Fifthly, the study can contribute to the theological education and training of church leaders and members in the Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria. The insights gained from the study can be incorporated into discipleship training materials and programs, thereby enhancing the theological and practical preparation of disciples in the church.
Lastly, the study can inspire further research on discipleship in the Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria and other similar contexts. It can identify areas that need further exploration and provide a foundation for future studies on discipleship.
Scope of the Study
The study examines Theology of Discipleship: It’s understanding and Practice in Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria. The study is restricted to Ezza District of Assemblies of God Nigeria.
Operational Definition of Terms
- Theology: Theology is the study of religious beliefs, concepts, and practices. It involves the analysis and interpretation of religious faith, experience, and practice. Theology is often used to explain the nature of a deity, religious traditions, moral values, and the relationship between humans and the divine.
- Discipleship: Discipleship in a Christian context refers to the process of teaching, learning, and living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It involves a commitment to follow Christ’s teachings and to live a life that reflects his values and principles. Discipleship is not just about knowledge, but also about transformation and action.
- Understanding: Understanding refers to the ability to comprehend, grasp, or perceive the meaning of something. It involves the process of interpreting, making sense of, and applying knowledge. Understanding is not just about knowing facts, but also about grasping concepts, making connections, and seeing the bigger picture.
- Practice: Practice refers to the application of knowledge or skills in real-life situations. It involves doing something regularly or repeatedly in order to become proficient at it. In a religious context, practice can refer to the regular observance of religious rituals, customs, and behaviors. Practice is about putting beliefs and knowledge into action.
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THEOLOGY OF DISCIPLESHIP: IT’S UNDERSTANDING AND PRACTICE IN EZZA DISTRICT OF ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA