Discipleship Requires Pacing Then Leading

Rick Dunn, using Jesus’ conversation with the disciples on the road to Emmaus as a model, describes discipleship as a “pacing-then-leading” relationship:

“To pace is to listen to and genuinely learn the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of an adolescent.  To lead is to speak the truth meaningfully into that real-life context . . .

Jesus paced then led Cleopas and his companion’s spiritual journey on the Emmaus road.  When he led it was in concert with their thoughts and experiences—so much so that they kept asking for more.  Their disillusionment, disorientation, and disconnection were answered in an encounter with the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

If the church prevails in twenty-first-century North American culture, it will be because spiritual caregivers have responded with that same commitment . . .

The pacing-then-leading model of nurturing adolescent spiritual maturity is grounded in the conviction that the adolescent’s life itself is the context for spiritual growth . . . the caregiver must become involved in the reality of the adolescent’s life . . . Human relationship is not a luxury option for either the adult or adolescent spiritual journey.  God’s redemptive work in the midst of real life is mediated through the connecting of the spiritual caregiver’s heart to the heart of the adolescent”

Rick Dunn in Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students, pp. 22, 45, 50, 56.   I highly recommend this book to all who are serious about discipleship.

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