Jesus calls us to be disciples. He does not call us to be Christians. Yes, disciples of Jesus ARE Christians, but I want us to consider the difference between a disciple and someone who simply wears the name Christian. Disciples follow Christ. Christians (in the United States) are often people who are simply checking off a religion box on a form, giving little thought about what it means, and knowing little about the Bible, or what it means to follow Christ.
I am not bashing the church. I am not bashing Christians who are doing their best to follow Jesus
Okay, now that I have ticked off plenty of folks, let me clarify a bit further. I am not bashing the church. I am not bashing Christians who are doing their best to follow Jesus. I am simply saying that there are plenty of people who claim to be Christian without even knowing what that term means (“little Christ” of “like Christ”). Disciples on the other hand, do know what Jesus expects of them. (See Luke 9:23, and Matthew 28:19-20 for a couple of hints).
With this in mind, I have wrestled with the notion of discipling people for the past couple of years. I have done one-on-one discipling, small group discipling, and large group discipling for years. I find them all to be fruitful and to serve different purposes in the life of a faith walk with Christ.
I believe that if we are going to truly develop disciples of Jesus, then we must be more intentional in our approach
I believe that if we are going to truly develop disciples of Jesus, who will in turn disciple others (kind of a redundant definition, I know, because disciples of Jesus disciple others to disciple others to disciple others…well, you get the point), then we must be more intentional in our approach. The book Real Life Discipleship was an eye-opener that truly started me on this journey.
Allow me to suggest a few strategies for helping others on the path of discipleship. These are not all-inclusive, but I pray that they will get your creative juices flowing in creating a discipleship process that will work for you and those with whom you have influence.
Duh! Ask God to show you who He wants discipled. Then, approach that person and ask them to join you on the journey of discipleship.
This can start with someone who is a new Christian or someone who has been a Christian for years. Set a regular meeting time and place (I like to do this weekly at first). A consistent meeting time for study, prayer, and talking about life together. I would continue meeting weekly for at least a year, and then change those meetings to once a month. Why? Because by the end of that first year, I have prayed with my disciple about who he will disciple. I want him to invest a weekly time to meet with that person. I still want to meet for accountability and study, but I want to honor time constraints for my disciple and frankly for me.
My point here is regular, consistent time together with one other person in the study of God’s Word and the study of books that help understand God’s Word, while also discussing the practical applications of what you are learning, and putting all that into practice will do so much more to helping others become disciples of Jesus.
I HIGHLY recommend going through Arron Chambers’ book Devoted. This book talks about being in Christ before you try to start doing for Christ. There is a 40 day Devoted experience in the back of the book that can serve as a daily devotional which also takes you through the book during that period. I cannot speak highly enough of this as the foundational resource to utilize for discipleship.
It is not my purpose to list a ton of discipleship resources here. If you are interested in getting such a list, please contact me, and I will email my “Path to Discipleship” document to you. What discipleship resources do you utilize for one-one-one teaching? I’d love to hear from you on that, as I am always adding to my list.
Next, I will examine some thoughts on small and large group discipleship opportunities. Let us make the most of every opportunity to draw others closer to Christ.