Thursday, December 9, 2010

Indoctrination vs. Discipleship

Indoctrination: to teach (a person or group of people) systematically to accept doctrines uncritically. It is an accusation that is commonly placed on religious practices.

Often times, rightly so.

The process of indoctrination is thousands of years old and has been used countless times over. Indoctrination forces a set of principles, values, or thoughts onto a person, demands uncritical, unquestioning acceptance of everything taught, frowns on individual expression and condemns creativity as dangerous.

The church has been at its worst when it has resorted to indoctrination in order to try to spread the message of Jesus Christ.


Because that is not what Jesus did, taught, stood for, or why He died on the cross. Lets get this straight right now. Jesus never indoctrinated a single person. He fought constantly with the Pharisees, who, consequently, were all about indoctrination.

Jesus was into discipleship, not indoctrination. Whereas those who are interested in indoctrination are concerned with conformity, Jesus is interested in the person as a whole. Mind, body, and spirit are all part of Jesus' teaching and it never involves blind conformity. Indoctrination discourages and condemns questions and free thought in the interest of "maintaining doctrinal purity."

Jesus, however, encouraged his disciples to ask questions. Why? Because questions are the beginning of faith. Jesus said "Seek and you will find" not "listen and repeat after me." This is the greatness of discipleship. It involves you as you are. Your being. Your soul. Your likes and dislikes. Its like Jesus comes along side you and says "I am going to fully invest myself in your life. I'm going to get to know you inside and out. I am going to know what makes you tick. I'm going to love your for WHO YOU ARE, and in the process, I'm going to teach you how to live. I'm going to teach you truth and how to recognize truth. I'm going to show you great and hidden things you do not know. Don't worry, I am going to be with you through this whole journey. Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't quit when it gets hard. I promise to be with you."

Discipleship is personal. Discipleship is relational, intellectual, emotional, social, and on-going. Indoctrination is interested in people saying the right things, looking the part, and in producing quantity over quality. Indoctrination is a one time process where someone is told what to think and then moved along. Discipleship is personal investment that encourages questions, seeking, and personal growth.

This is the problem with much of our so called "Bible-study" today. Much of it is incorrectly based on the principles of indoctrination. It gives people the "answers" for life in a bullet point format, tells people what God wants them to think and to be and then moves on to the next approved lesson.

This isn't how Jesus taught.

If God had wanted us to learn from bullet points, scripture would be laid out differently.

You see, indoctrination is a cheap and ineffective substitute for discipleship. It tries to skip the discipleship process by giving people the "answers" ahead of time. Unfortunately, getting the answer is not how we learn and grow. The discipleship process is how we learn and grow. The answer isn't effective if we lose the process. So, instead of trying to skip to the end, we need to get back to true discipleship.

Think about this. Jesus, the pre-existent Logos/Word of God in flesh, took three years to train his disciples. If anyone could have skipped to the end and taken the short version it would have been Jesus. Yet, here he was, teaching, walking with, loving, valuing and investing himself in the lives of His disciples for 3 years. And in those three years we hardly see Jesus asking his disciples for quick, indoctrinated answers. Even when they came to Jesus looking for those answers Jesus redirected them.

So, this raises the question for you and your church. Are you making disciples or simply trying to indoctrinate people? If you are indoctrinating people you will get a lot of people who can say all the right things but not live them. You will get Pharisees.

And Pharisees are hypocrites.

You also must ask: "Have I been indoctrinated or discipled?" You may be surprised at the answer. Do you grow in your faith by asking questions and seeking or by wanting a quick black or white answer to something that really doesn't affect your life one way or the other?

Jesus commanded us to make DISCIPLES of all nations. It is time to let go of the easy but ineffective model of indoctrination and rise Above Reality by embracing discipleship.

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