Jason Micheli on Discipleship vs. Propositional Belief

My friend Jason Micheli blogged yesterday on the anxiety of parents whose kids have fallen away from Christianity. It’s a topic I often have in the back of my mind in confirmation season. One of the most painful statistic to look at for our church is the number of kids whose last Sunday in church was the day they were confirmed. We retain about a quarter to a third of the kids we confirm. We’ve tried a lot of different strategies for addressing the problem. I wanted to share a quote from Jason that really seems to nail it, though I’m not sure exactly how to address what he’s naming.

The whole manner of reducing Christianity to a belief that our children have or do not have is part of the problem. Christians are disciples, apprentices, followers. We’re not believers. It’s not about making up our minds one way or the other but giving to our lives a Christ-like pattern that calls them to sacrificial living.

This is basically a different way of saying what James K.A. Smith has been saying about the way that humans are not really propositional, rational creatures so much as we are liturgical. We need to be mentored and shown what discipleship looks like rather than just having our heads filled with ideas. I very much agree with Jason that we need to be disciples rather than just believers. If the purpose of church is to instill an ideology in its attendees, whether it’s a conservative or liberal ideology, there’s not much of a reason to go. I’m very interested in exploring what a confirmation process looks like that is more focused on cultivating disciples than imparting propositional beliefs.

5 thoughts on “Jason Micheli on Discipleship vs. Propositional Belief

  1. Speaking as one of those durned “Millennials,” from what I’ve read, heard, seen, and experienced, what we’re looking for has much more to do with “how” we believe instead of “what.” If our religion/faith is focused on helping ourselves (being a member of a country clu– *cough* church), we’re losing interest in it.

    • A durned millennial? I’m kind of an in-between-ial I guess (35) but I’m mostly millennial in terms of ideological proclivities. Yeah I tend to sniff out self-serving theology too.

  2. I’m not a part of your specific Christian tradition (i.e., Methodism), but I’m anxious to see what sort of answers you find/propose/consider/adopt in relation to it. I’ve been looking for something similar ever since I left the fundamentalism in which I was raised. Some days I think I’ve succeeded more than others.

  3. Morgan – I would love to get together with you to explore this option further. We just finished up this year’s confirmation process and evaluation has begun!

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