Becoming a C Student

Erik Cooper —  July 6, 2011 — 7 Comments

The A students make the grades.

The B students make the friends.

But the C students make all the money.

This sagely insight was a mantra of my father as I was growing up. Unfortunately for my kids’ college funds, I seemed to have a pretty good knack for making A’s. Guess I should have taken more geometry.

Like most gross over-generalizations, there is some definitive truth in there. While education is the obvious goal (or at least we’d like to believe), we’ve wrongly defined “educated” as the ability to put A’s on a report card.

We’ve defined the right goal, but have we defined the goal right?

Overlay this thinking onto the church.

Ask any sane evangelical pastor in North America (some days I qualify) and he or she will tell you that the goal of the church is Matthew 28:19.

The Great Commission.

Make disciples.

(Oh, and potato salad. Make plenty of potato salad. For the church pitch-ins. Trust me, it’s implied).

The right goal. But have we defined that goal right?

My natural inclination is to see discipleship as an information issue. Take the ignorant, add the info, and out comes a Christ follower. Like making cookies. And who doesn’t like cookies?

And knowledge is incredibly important (don’t overswing the pendulum). But treating discipleship as a predominantly informational issue has led to less than stellar results (at least in my world). The goal becomes more absorption, and less application.We know, but do we really learn?

We become A students with solid report cards displayed proudly on mom’s refrigerator door, while the C students seem to be out there changing the world.

Discipleship is the right goal, but have we defined discipleship right?

I’ve got some emerging theories I’ll share in future posts, but I’d love to hear your thoughts (seriously, type them in). What processes, encounters, relationships, connections, epiphanies have created the greatest long-term God-transformations in you?

7 responses to Becoming a C Student

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Like you said, discipleship isn’t another box for a Christian or a church to check to prove that everything/everyone is doing what they are supposed to do. Discipleship is about deepening the person’s relationship with the Creator of the universe, helping him/her to love/desire God more, so that s/he is an accurate reflection of God. When you truly love someone, you want to find out everything about Him: what He thinks, what He has written, how He operates in the world. That way, God is the standard, rather than the churches beliefs of what are the standards. Thanks for sharing your blog, I appreciate the insights 🙂

    • My friend Dr. Elmore likes to refer to himself as a spiritual coach. The goal is always to connect people directly to Christ and then watch Him do the work.

  2. Your Dad is truly a wise man! Lets go win the world for Christ means making disciples. Some times that just means we have to be able to relate to the average Joe who is so busy digging in his foxhole trying to make it that he does not have time to raise his head up to see the bullets whizzing by. The “C” student understands this and cares. I like this the most from your piece: “We’ve defined the right goal, but have we defined the goal right?” Keep up the awesome work Erik Cooper! You may have been an “A” student, but God is showing you even more now and I for one am being challenged by your insights!

  3. Rachel Sayers July 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm


    I’m excited about your post! I just returned from a conference and it was wonderful….! It marked about 18 years of my life in “church”…which is half of my life…and I was just thinking on the way home, when I was driving and processing everything…I was thinking how many of us in the church are groupies/and how many are “family”, and do we even know the difference? It might seem like an entirely different topic than discipleship, but it’s not. In me, the biggest God transformations have come when I’ve been desperate. So in that sense, I am glad for some serious challenges I have had in my life. Had I have not been so desperate, I very well might have missed God and just accessorized my life with some of the terrible beauty that streams from the sanctuary instead of grabbing hold of God the person.

  4. Eeeeenhhh. Wrong answer. And perhaps that’s where you’re going. Above all else, the goal of discipleship is not information but rather transformation . Information may be one enabler toward transformation, but it’s not the goal.

    Romans 12:2

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