Almost every week, we ask ourselves this question: How should we do discipleship in the present day? What is the best way to nourish God’s sheep? In an environment where everything has to be fabulously grotesque, extravagantly diverse, intensely scary, or extremely marginal, what should 21st-century discipleship look like? All of us have our conceptualizations of the good old days and the “old-time religion” of the past. At the same time, we must be mindful that societal norms are changing all the time, and as they shift, so do the needs and expectations of those who are hungry for a word of hope.
Not only are God’s people hungry, but they are also curious about how to survive when things are topsy turvy. As disciples, we must be in a position to provide new answers to old questions – all based on the word of God. That might involve looking at the world through new lenses. For these reasons, modern-day disciples continually discern new ways to reach out boldly to those in need of hope.
Some people might say disciples should do “whatever it takes” to feed God’s wonderfully amazing variety of sheep. But caution is in order. Taking our cues from the medical profession, no matter what approach we deploy, in the body of Christ we must “first, do no harm.” When we think about this Hippocratic Oath, part of the Code of Ethics in the medical profession, we ask this question: Shouldn’t disciples also have such a code? We are obligated to develop a critical awareness of the impact of what we do on the outcomes we desire and the people we serve. The reality is that we must be accountable for our choices and ensure the integrity of our approaches to discipleship. As 21st-century disciples, we are responsible for planning our efforts systematically and carefully to reach an audience that spans millions of miles and seven continents. The Internet provides a promising approach to achieving this goal.