Gospel-centered discipleship: 7 questions with Brandon Smith

Recently it was announced that Gospel-Centered Discipleship would have a new director, Brandon Smith.

brandon

Brandon is a freelance writer, with work appearing in newspaper, radio, and popular online resources such as The Gospel Coalition, Baptist Press, and Church Leaders. He is also the Associate Editor for The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and Director of Communications at Criswell College.

Brandon kindly took a bit of time to share with me why he’s excited about his new role with GCD, his own experiences in discipleship, and what he loves about writing.


Sound Words: Listening to the Scriptures, one of the many eBooks produced by Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

1. What excites you about what’s going on with Gospel-Centered Discipleship?

Gospel-Centered Discipleship has made its mark in the past few years by offering articles and eBooks that are practitioner-tested, gospel-centered, community-shaped, and mission-focused. I’m eager to continue that trend. We have a slew of talented contributors and authors who are dedicated to advancing the gospel and helping equip the Church to do the same.

I’m also thrilled to say that we are planning to expand our ministry into exciting new territories. We are dreaming up ways to better equip local churches and their people to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and we want to be more intentional in developing a more hands-on approach toward equipping disciples to be disciple-makers. We also see great partnerships with like-minded ministries on the horizon that will focus on all of us working together to resource the Church for Jesus’s sake. God has been good to us, and we’re only getting started!

2. Who are the people who’ve had the greatest impact on your faith? Why?

I’d say the most influential person on my life is the first pastor I ever served under. Even before I became the youth pastor on his staff, he discipled me and served me in a way that I’d never seen before. He showed me how to disciple someone in the way that Jesus did: by loving, rebuking, forgiving, and teaching. I owe much of my character as a pastor, husband, father, and friend to him.

On a broader note, the Puritans have made a large impact on me as a person. Their regard to deep doctrine leading to resilient devotion is encouraging. The rich, God-exalting way that Thomas Watson writes has particularly shaped me spiritually. The Great Gain of Godliness wrecked me, and I always encourage others to read it with a humble, prayerful heart.

3. What does disciple-making look like for you? Walk us through how you invest in others.

My primary discipleship context is my home. I aim to constantly reflect Christ in how I lead my wife and newborn daughter through humility, sacrifice, and steadfastness. I pray for them, I pray with them, and I wage war with the indwelling sin that so easily entangles me. Though never perfectly, I strive to make the culture of our home one of God-glorification and repentance.

Beyond that, I stay in constant contact with Christians and non-Christians with whom I’ve built strong relationships. I still counsel, serve, pray for, spend time with, and invest in friends, family, those that I’ve pastored over the years, and those with whom I’ve shared the gospel.

To me, the key to discipleship is consistency and longsuffering. Just because I’m no longer a teenager’s youth pastor or the leader of someone’s small group, I’m not absolved from discipling them. Likewise, I want to do my best to seek out, develop, and maintain relationships with non-Christians. We live in a lost and dying world, and I view making disciples as both an inner (within the body of Christ) and outer (those who do not know him) affair.

4. Shifting gears a bit, you’re involved with The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood as well. Why do you think the complementarian/egalitarian debate continues to be such a hot-button among evangelicals?

This issue is much like the Calvinism/Arminianism or the Cessationism/Continuationism conversations. Christians who care about what the Bible says are very passionate about their beliefs, and when they see a diametrically opposed view from their own, a tension immediately arises. I think these conversations are healthy and should be had. I’m also of the opinion that these conversations are not going away. When it gets ugly, of course, is when the two sides begin shooting flaming arrows at one another rather than talking with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We should hold firm to our convictions, but not react in sin.

50 Crucial Questions About Manhood and Womanhood , a free resource from CBMW (available at DesiringGod.org)

5. What would you say to the believer who pleads “agnostic” on the issue?

I would say that any time Scripture makes a point to talk about something, we should make a point to understand what it’s teaching. Scripture has a lot to say about gender, sex, marriage, divorce, husbands, wives, family units, and so forth. God seems to think that this is a big deal. That’s the main reason we cannot plead agnostic.

Additionally, whether one interprets Scripture as a complementarian or egalitarian, that view will largely shape their relationships and their family, if they have one. A complementarian husband and wife will interact differently than an egalitarian couple, and their relationship will paint a particular picture to their children and neighbors about God’s design for marriage.

So, when Scripture says that men should love their wives like Christ loves the Church, this is a weighty statement that must be examined. When Scripture says that a woman should submit to her husband or that she should not have authority over a man, these are no small statements. How one interprets passages such as these has important implications. It not only affects their interaction with their spouse and their example to others, but it relates to biblical fidelity and whether one is truly following the commands of Scripture.

And, for the sake of brevity, we haven’t even scratched the surface of how this issue informs sexuality, the church, the workplace, social issues, etc. It’s a pervasive and life-shaping topic.

6. What is it about writing that excites you?

Writing excites me primarily because I feel that God has equipped me with the ability and desire to use it for gospel advancement. Writing is a unique medium for teaching and edifying the Church, and today’s technology has given writers (and readers) a venue through which the gospel can be proclaimed and their gifts can be used for God’s glory. God uses writers to the stir the soul in ways that preachers and teachers often cannot.

For me, a successful article is one that magnifies the beauty of the gospel and awakens the reader’s heart to something new about God. When a person is genuinely impacted by something that I write, that’s a win. When I receive an email or a social media contact saying that my article left an impression on someone’s walk with Christ, I’m overjoyed. If writers aren’t writing to teach and edify the Church, they need to move along to something else. For the Christian writer, writing is about using a God-given talent for God-ordained purposes, not for a bigger audience or more social media influence.

7. How can readers be praying for or otherwise get involved with GCD or CBMW?

Both ministries have had (and, Lord willing, will continue to have) a profound effect on churches, families, and society. Our prayer, and your prayer, should always be that God will get the glory in all that these ministries do. If God is not changing lives through our ministries, we’re in the wrong line of work.


Connect with GCD and Brandon on Twitter:

@GCDiscipleship

@BrandonSmith85

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