Tara Owens, in her editorial letter in the most recent issue of Conversations Journal, laments the corruption of the verb "to follow." She writes, "More and more, following is an action that no longer requires any, well, action. Instead, it has come to mean something passive and impersonal, requiring little of us in terms of sacrifice or change."
As Christians, we commit to follow Jesus. It means to accept his authority in our lives and strive to live like him. When Jesus invites someone to follow him, it is a life-changing event.
When I decide to follow someone on Twitter, nothing in my life truly changes. Really.
The mission statement of PGF is to transform mainline congregations into missional communities following Jesus Christ. When we sat around a table and talked about the hope of PGF, we wanted to be really careful not to be a distraction to the gospel. The heart of PGF is to discern how God is working in his people and join his work of salvation and deliverance. Jesus did not spend time, money, or energy seeking to renew or reform the existing religious structures of the day. He did seek to build relationships with people, deepen their personal relationship with God, and unleash mercy and compassion on people the religious institutions of the day ignored.
It is hard to follow Jesus Christ in our postmodern world. That's why there is the G in PGF. The western church, including American Christians, are not effective witnesses for the gospel. There are lots of scholars and articles that address the death of the mainline church, so I won't here. But what we do know is the church in the rest of the world is growing - not in buildings or in cash - but in followers. We need to listen to our brothers and sisters across the globe, submit, and learn from their powerful example.
What we have learned so far is that to follow Jesus in the world is to engage in a way of life that requires sacrifice and change. To follow Jesus is nothing like following someone on Twitter.
PGF is a collection of individuals, churches, scholars, students, and friends who seek to follow Jesus. We seek to share how God is revealing his mission in our midst. We share ideas and best practices gleaned from one another, including our brothers and sisters across the globe. We commit to being a missional community following Jesus Christ.
I hope you will follow us on Twitter because we share some good ideas and resources. But it won't change your life.
I hope you will follow Jesus. To follow Jesus, however, is not passive. As Tara says at the end of her article, "Resist the temptation to accept the kind of passivity that the world is seeking to bring into what it means to follow.Engage. Reach out. Pass along. Making following the Jesus way something that you do, rather than something you simply read."