Living with elephants

Editorial: Committing ourselves to a decade of intentional discipleship


by Connie FaberElephant

As we finished this issue focused on discipleship, I thought about elephants. I recalled the expression, “the elephant in the room,” a phrase often used when we think a topic is important but isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Then there’s the story of the blind men who have never encountered an elephant and learn what the animal is like by touching different parts of the elephant—the thick trunk, a fan-like ear, the hard and smooth tusk or the animal’s very broad side. When the men share their conclusions, they discover they don’t agree on anything about this mysterious animal. In some versions of this ancient parable, the story concludes with the men collaborating to “see” the full elephant.

Last summer U.S. Mennonite Brethren identified three elephants that we are committed to living with and “seeing” together as a community of faith for the next 10 years, and one of these is intentional disciple-making. (For the record, the other two are leadership development and church planting and evangelism.) Regarding discipleship, Jesus commands us to do two things: be his disciples while also making disciples. This means discipleship is both deep and wide—it encompasses a lot of stuff. The feature articles in this issue explore one facet of discipleship that we often call “doing life together.” These articles speak to the value of developing relationships with other believers and those that don’t yet know Jesus as their Savior, specifically connecting with those in our respective congregations, with guests we invite to gather around our dinner tables and with people whose lives can best be described as messy.

Being disciples and making disciples. Neither is done individually. Discipleship is best pursued in collaboration with others. It is not an instant process or an activity pursued in our spare time. Being disciples and making disciples is a 24-7 lifestyle—better yet, a life—choice. In this issue, we invite you to reflect on a very basic question: What does it mean to follow Jesus?

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With this issue, Myra Holmes concludes her 14-year tenure with the Christian Leader. For 12 of those years she served as assistant editor and was responsible for writing many of the news stories you’ve read and editing both news briefs and church news departments. Myra has worked diligently, creatively and joyfully. I have appreciated her as a colleague and a friend and will miss her. We wish Myra the best as she enters a new career arena.


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