Welcome to Part 2 of the Outreach Interview with David Platt and Francis Chan from the March/April issue. In this exclusive online edition, Platt engages Chan on discipleship shifts, life-on-life training and taking Christianity to a new level.
Platt: How has your perspective on discipleship changed over the last 5–10 years? Is there one thing you would point to as the biggest shift in the way you make disciples?
Chan: I see discipleship as so much more of a life-on-life thing than it is working through a curriculum or getting people to believe certain things or the “head knowledge” part. I think that’s the biggest way it’s changed.
In the past, I thought I needed to get them to believe certain doctrines and kind of stop there. I just really wanted them to have good theology. I realize now it goes way beyond that — to obeying what He commanded. So I have to model obedience to these biblical commands and have them see that lived out, then for me to see that multiplied into their lives as an obedient lifestyle, which is about going out and making disciples.
They need to see that I do that throughout the day, live with me and be with me, oftentimes even in my house — live in my house — live with me, see this lifestyle of discipleship within the home, outside the home, with neighbors, with strangers.
That’s true discipleship.
Hopefully, they’re seeing in me a life that somewhat resembles Christ, and they’re imitating that. I don’t think there has been enough emphasis on that. That’s where we’ve fallen short. When was the last time you’ve heard anyone say, “Follow my example as I follow Christ”? Who says that? People say, “Follow this … this is what Christ did … this is what Christ did …” but that’s not what Paul asked us to say. That’s not what Paul said.
Platt: Imitate me. That’s a bold statement.
Chan: Imitate me because I’m going after Christ. It’s interesting, I was just thinking about this yesterday. In the verse right before that, he says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, give all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.”
What’s he saying to imitate? “I try to please everyone in everything I do …” So in a sense, he’s trying to be a people-pleaser in the sense of what he said earlier in chapter 9, “I’m just trying to be all things to all men …” That’s what we have to model. Watch me. Here are a bunch of people who believe completely differently than I do. Watch. Watch how I’m going to try to be everything to them.
Be all things to all men. Why? Not so that they love me. That’s not why Paul does. It’s not to seek my own advantage. If I’m not living that kind of life, don’t follow me.