Category Archives: Discipleship

Smell Like Sheep

Having “grown up” in the church for most of my life, I can honestly say that I hadn’t given much thought about what an Elder should look like or act like. 

I mean, Elders were those old guys with sour looks on their faces, like they had been baptized in pickle juice, you know…they hung around in the shadows of the church building, coming forward to serve at the Communion Table and sit in those throne chairs left over from the Dark Ages. I never thought of them as “bad guys,” I just didn’t want to hang out with them.

You, too, may suffer from misconceptions about what the role of a biblical Elder is. Manmade traditions have clouded the clear call of God in this matter. To this end, allow me to summarize some thoughts from Dr. Lynn Anderson, president of Hope Network and author of the two volume work, “They Smell Like Sheep.

Elders are shepherds.

Which, is a good thing in light or Isaiah’s assessment of us when he wrote: “we all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.” We need a shepherd who lives with us, walks with us, feeds, waters, protects us in a hands-on, personal manner.  A shepherd is simply there for the flock. A biblical Elder smells like sheep.

A shepherd is committed to the Lord, to the church, to the clear teaching of the Scriptures, and to the people entrusted to his care as an Elder.

A shepherd is trusted. They are followed because they have established that they can be trusted in the good times and the not-so-good times. Shepherds attract flocks through loving service and authentic relationships.

Elders are mentors.

While a shepherd tends the flock, a mentor pulls up along side individuals to model behavior, values, and faith through a shared life. Mentoring is pouring your life into someone else so they become more like Christ.  Mentors are models, not moguls lording it over anyone. Elders as mentors are not cowboys driving the herd, or sheriffs “enforcing the law.” Mentors who pour themselves into others often see things in the person they are mentoring that the person being mentored may not see in themselves.

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My spiritual mentor, Don Boswell, saw in me the potential to move out of that broadcast journalist mindset and into full-time ministry. 30 years later, I am still living out that vision Don cast before me, and loving every minute of being a minister of the Gospel of Christ.

Elders are equippers.

News flash: biblical Elders do not do all the work of ministry that needs to be done. They cannot do all of the work of ministry that needs to be done. As the flock grows, needs grow, and those needs outgrow the ability of a handful of Elders to handle. So, Elders need to follow the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:11-13, and equip others for works of service.  This means that Elders must

  1. Delegate meaningful tasks to others.

  2. Search for the “right fit” for the tasks at hand.

  3. Train them with the skills necessary to accomplish those tasks.

Knowing this is what God expects from Elders, what is our responsibility to our Elders? I am so glad you asked.  I will offer some thoughts on that in my next post. Meanwhile, I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. Leave a comment below so we can continue the conversation.

Be God’s.

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Affirmation

My oldest son Elliott and I are currently reading Bob Goff’s book, Love Does. Yeah, there are three links in my last sentence, and you should check them all out! Every chapter in this book grabs me, stomps on my toes, and/or has me standing and cheering “YESSSSSSSSS!”

satan does not deserve the respect or the credit of having his name capitalized, even at the beginning of a sentence. Now, I understand that many folks want to give him more credit than he deserves, but satan is a wimp. He is a liar, a braggart, a self-deceived and self-deceiving cast out from heaven.  Now, I understand satan can be stronger than we humans can be, and I understand folks fear satan for what he can do in their lives. However, those people are allowing satan to hold that power over them. I refuse to do so.

I am not claiming that satan does not wage war against me every day.  He does.  I am simply saying that I call him out for what he is: a spineless, wimp of a wannabe god. I recognize that satan does indeed have power to wield, but I will battle that power with the superior power of God’s Word and God’s people in my life.

I have spent much of this week drawing closer to God, while expressing my pure hatred for death.  Death was not part of God’s original design, but satan helped facilitate death’s entrance into the world when he enticed Adam and Eve to sin. God is the Father of Life, while satan is death’s daddy. I long for the day of Christ’s return when those who are in His Kingdom, those who are His Bride, go to be in His presence forever, and when death is told to “go to hell.”

Meanwhile, I want to encourage those who are doing their best to follow Christ daily to resist satan and to draw closer to Jesus. I want to remind us that satan holds no power over us unless we give him that power. Instead, let us draw from the mighty power of our Heavenly Father by spending quality and quantity time in the Bible, in prayer, and in doing life together with fellow believers.

Time in the Bible

Use the reading plan that best fits you.  I have, for the past couple of decades, read the One Year Bible plan. You get a does of Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs every day. Last year, as readers of this blog know, I added an immersion into Colossians in my daily reading.  This year, Peggy and I are immersing ourselves in 1 Peter as our couples devotion. I personally love the Bible App from YouVersion. Others prefer to use a Bible from their bookshelf. Whatever. I just cannot over emphasize the importance of daily immersing yourself in God’s Word.

Time in prayer.

I use desconsos to help remind me of prayer matters. My wedding ring reminds me to pray for Peggy. Grinding Juan Valdez Café reminds me to pray for Dale and Jeanie Meade and the Colombian Christian Mission, a glasses-wearing flower sticker reminds me to pray for Francesca Rodriguez. I have desconsos reminding me to pray for my kids, my grandkids, the folks at Vero Christian Church, the lost in our community, etc. I have dedicated times of intensive prayer, and I have an attitude of prayer through the day.  I am not a master of prayer by any means. I consider myself a novice but I work to make prayer a discipline in my life every day.

Time doing life together with fellow believers.

I disciple a couple of different men right now. I am in a Life Group. I lead two different praise teams at our church. I LOVE the time I get to hang out with Peggy. Well, you get the picture. There is no such thing as a “Lone Ranger Christian,” and it is important to surround yourself with believers for encouragement and accountability.

I pray that this post is an affirmation for you. Don’t give satan credit he doesn’t deserve, but don’t think that you can overcome his schemes on your own. He knows you weaknesses, and will attack in those areas.  What are some ways you counter those attacks? I would love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Be God’s.

Fathers and Children

As I reflect on my decades of being a dad to three (now six when you include spouses) children, I know that I made plenty of mistakes along the way.  If I did one thing right, I believe it is that I tried to be consistent in my expression of love for my kids and in my insistence that my kids love God first.

With that in mind, I will share some thoughts based on Paul’s admonition to Fathers as found in Ephesians 6:4

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Do not provoke, rather bring them up with the discipline.  There’s the rub. As the writer of Hebrews (I believe that to be Paul, but that’s a subject for another post/time), reminds us “no discipline seems pleasant at the time.” Discipline has become synonymous with “punishment,” but that is not an accurate definition of the word by any stretch. Discipline and Disciple both come from the same root word meaning “to teach or train someone.” Yes, there can be negative applications here, but there are also positive applications.  Setting the example for others to follow and helping them to see the benefits of following is disciplining or discipling them.

When it came to raising our kids, my goal was to have children who love Jesus more than anything or anyone else.  I wanted my children to see my love for Christ in action.  Not just to hear me say the words, but to live the life.  I wanted them to fall in love with Jesus and with the Word of God.  I know I could have done a better job in this regard.  Not sure my children “caught me” reading the Bible as much as I should have “been caught.” It is difficult to have quiet time with the kids in tow.

My goal was to have children who love Jesus more than anything or anyone else.

So what are some practices we can put into place to help our children be brought up with discipline while not provoking?

  • Set the example. If your kids don’t see you actively living out a life of love for Jesus, don’t expect them to do so themselves. Actions speak louder than words. You reverence of, respect for, and adoration of Jesus can be expressed in many ways, including how you treat your spouse and your children.

  • Read Scripture and pray with your kids. This is above and beyond your “quiet time” in the Lord. As I already mentioned, it can be difficult to be “caught” by your kids in your personal quiet time, but it wouldn’t hurt to be “caught” by them occasionally. Meanwhile, part of your daily routine should be time in the Word and in prayer with your kids. Ask you kids to pray for you, stuff like, “pray that daddy will live a life of love for Jesus today.” Including your kids as prayer partners, not just the subject of your prayers is a big deal, and can be done at all ages beyond the toddler years. For toddlers, encourage them to pray for Mommy and Daddy in simple terms they can handle.

  • As your kids grow older, let them in on some “quiet time” with you. Take them to a quiet place, let them in on your personal Bible study of that day, and pray with and for them.

  • Show your spouse love in front of your kids (keep it age appropriate). It is a good thing for your kids to know that Mommy and Daddy love each other. A friendly kiss on the cheek or even on the lips in front of your kids will NOT scar them for life!

  • Remember that your kids will learn more from what is “caught” than what is “taught.” Every second you spend with your kids is a “teachable moment.” The tone of voice you use, the choice of words, the smile (or lack thereof) are all important.

  • Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes, especially when you are caught in one. Ask for forgiveness, and lay out a plan to correct the situation.  Then, when your kids are caught in a mistake, have them do the same thing.  You model it, and expect them to follow.

  • Remember that no one is perfect. Not even you. Extend grace freely, just as God extends it to you freely every day.

What would you add to this list? What are your successes in disciplining your kids? What would you do differently? I would love to continue the conversation in the comments section below.

Be God’s.

Discipling On Purpose

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In my previous post, I discussed the fact that God expects His followers to mentor someone else.  Mentoring, or discipling, for the context of this post will be defined as one Christian helping another Christian love Jesus more so that they both become more like Jesus. (I will use the terms discipling and mentoring interchangeably.) Discipling on purpose, therefore is designed to help a fellow believer become more loving. It is designed to help both the mentor and the one being mentored become more like Jesus.

To mentor means doing life with and making yourself vulnerable to someone.

To accomplish this goal, I want to focus on three aspects of Discipling on purpose.

  1. It requires authentic relationship.  Mentoring or Discipling requires more than a teacher-student interaction.  Yes, there is teaching to take place. However, without relationship, the transferring of facts is going to be all that takes place, and that falls woefully short of the goal of making Disciples of Jesus.  There are plenty of folks with head knowledge about Jesus who do not live like Jesus and who do not love like Jesus. If we are truly mentoring someone, it needs to take place in the context of authentic relationship.  That means I have to “get real” with the person I am discipling. They will see the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of me.  It is uncomfortable for most people, and I believe it is a key inhibitor to true Discipleship. Sharing your “deep, dark secrets” means that you are not going to come across as perfect.  I have news for you: everyone already knows that you aren’t perfect.  Only Jesus is perfect, and you ain’t Jesus! You must be willing to let the person you are mentoring “in.” To mentor means doing life with and making yourself vulnerable to someone.

  2. It requires doing life together. That is more than a time when you meet with the person you are discipling to study together.  Those times are important, but so are the times when you are dining together, playing together, and serving together. THOSE are the times when you get to know each other on a deeper level.  That is where the rubber meets the road stuff. Relationship outside of a “classroom setting” leads to a much stronger bond.  Jesus didn’t take His 12 Disciples and sequester them in a classroom setting.  They traveled together, ate meals together, served together, all the while Jesus was pouring Himself into them. We mentors need to pour ourselves into the folks we are mentoring. Remember, to mentor someone is to take them where you have already gone. As Dr. Lynn Anderson says, “Mentors pull alongside human beings and model behavior, values, and faith through shared life.” 

  3. The ultimate goal is to be more like Christ. That should be the ultimate goal of every individual Christ-follower and it certainly is the goal of discipling on purpose.  We need to remember that mentoring is of eternal importance.  The ONLY thing that will matter 100 years from now is your relationship with Christ. The only thing that will matter 100 years from now in your discipling relationship is that disciple’s relationship with Christ. I am challenged (and a little frightened) to echo the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he said, “follow me as I follow Christ.”  That should be the creed for everyone who dares to mentor someone else in the name of Jesus.  That should be the goal for every discipling on purpose relationship! If I am not closer to Christ in my personal walk now than I was a year ago, how could I possibly dare to disciple someone on purpose? A mentor can only take someone where they have already gone.

Bearing these three points in mind, what do we need to do to disciple on purpose? Pray that God leads you to the person He wants you to disciple. Prepare by studying God’s Word so you can effectively teach. Put yourself out there by being authentic and vulnerable.

A mentor can only take someone where they have already gone.

For those who are discipling others, what advice would you add here? For those interested in becoming a mentor, what other questions would you ask here? I would love to continue the conversation with you in the comments section below.

Be God’s.

 

Mentoring One Another

A photo by Luke Porter. unsplash.com/photos/1DDFLlCz42k

You can cannot lead people where you have not gone.

I will confess that discipleship/mentoring is a major part of my “job” at Vero Christian Church, so this is where I live. As such, having the privilege of re-reading Dr. Lynn Anderson‘s book, “They Smell Like Sheep” as I mentor someone these days is pure joy for me.  It also challenges me and shames me for not doing a better job in communicating the importance and the practice of mentoring.

As such, let me share just a couple of truths regarding mentoring one another, and let me encourage all of us to engage in mentoring.

Dr. Anderson asserts two serious principles which I want to address:

  1. God expects all of us to mentor others to some degree. – THAT is an expectation that should challenge and frighten us at the same time.  God EXPECTS me to mentor others?  Yeah, but I am not sure what that looks like.

  2. The modern-day church shouts the need for godly men and women to serve as spiritual mentors. – We understand that nature abhors a vacuum. I would say that there is a vacuum when it comes to proper mentors in the church in general these days.  In discussion about that matter this morning, a guy I am mentoring hit the nail on the head as to why that is so:

Too many of us are afraid to open ourselves up, make ourselves vulnerable to others for fear of them seeing our flaws…our sin. We want to come across as strong, as perfect and to mentor someone means getting in there and doing life with them to the point that the superficial facade that we like to put up crumbles in the light of reality. If God expects us all to mentor others, and if the church is shouting for the need for godly men and women to mentor, then it is incumbent on us to (and this is NOT a comprehensive list):

  • Do a heart check. Be a person after God’s own heart. Let your deepest motivations and passions be for God and for mentoring God’s people (by the way, God’s people are both Christians and non-Christians…God is for people, and you should be, too).

  • Get over the fear of being vulnerable to someone else. Open our life up to one person (and to a group of people in a Life Group), and “get real” with them.

  • Be authentic in your walk with Christ. Yeah, that IS related to being vulnerable. People need to know that you are REAL, that your faith is working for you, that you are a person of integrity.

  • Study to show yourself approved as one who correctly handles the Word of God. Share what you have learned and how you apply that to your life.

  • Remember that character matters. Be a person of character.  Be faithful, because faithfulness is character lived out.

  • Do the hands-on modeling for the person or persons we mentor to be able to follow.  We must make what we are doing scaleable and reproducible. It may come as a shock to you, but that is what Jesus did as He mentored the 12 Apostles, His inner circle of three guys, and the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”

  • Be ready to invest significant time into the person(s) you mentor.  I often refer to mentoring/discipleship as the “crock pot solution to a microwave problem.” Mentoring is not completed in a day, or a week, or even a year. I don’t see a completion date when it comes to mentoring.  Oh, the frequency of meeting may (and will) change, but doing life together means just that: doing LIFE together.

Bottom line is this: to mentor someone, you must love God with a wild abandon, and you must love people the way God loves them.  You must invite them to follow you as you follow Christ, and you need to always remember that you cannot lead people where you have not gone.

Next time, I will examine “discipling on purpose.” For these discussions, I will use the terms discipling and mentoring interchangeably. Bear with me as I continue prayerfully considering this crucial topic of making disciples for Jesus.

What would you add to my list regarding mentoring?  I would love to continue the conversation in the comment section below.

Be God’s.

 

Party For One

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I recently had an interesting conversation with a fellow minister who primarily works with students. As is th case quite often in student ministry, they are in a time of transition, and in the down side of the “numbers cycle.” My brother in Christ lamented the notion that they have more sponsors than students at the moment, and asked how you can keep producing top notch environments and experiences designed for larger numbers of students who those numbers simply aren’t there.

I reminded him of many things he already knew, but want to share some key thoughts and how they apply not just to student ministry, but to every day life for us all.

Every ONE is important to God.

Read Luke chapter 15. Yeah, you are that important to God. He would throw a party for just you! That’s how much He loves you. Do not ever let sat an tell you that you are unworthy of love. Jesus is the refutation of that lie! If you were the ONLY person on earth, Jesus would still die for your sins.

Speak the 4 P’s into the lives of those you are discipling.

POSITIVE – be positive about what is going on. Yes, you can acknowledge the challenges ahead, but take the positive track. For example, you only have two or three regular attenders? Focus on them and build them up. Encourage them. Help them understand how much you appreciate the spiritual maturity they exhibit on a daily basis.

PRAISE them for their faithfulness. It takes a lot more strength & fortitude to attend when the numbers are small than when “everyone is coming.” They need to know that their spiritual maturity is shining and is appreciated. They may not be as mature as you make them out to be, but we’ll discuss that in the last of the 4 P’s.

PREFERRED FUTURE – Cast the vision both collectively and in one-on-one sessions. I have found that mall food courts are excellent places to do one-on-one meetings with students. It’s public, open, and provides the safety for students and student ministers while affording a private meeting space around a table.  Thrown in a meal and you can usually hook a student to attend such a pow-wow. Ask the student what they see in the future for the student ministry. Ask them how they would go about achieving that preferred future. Cast the vision for them, and show them how they play a crucial role in achieving that preferred future.

PROPHETIC – Finally, speak prophetically into their lives.  Remember when I said to praise them for their spiritual maturity? They may not truly be all that mature yet, but when you treat them like a maturing Christ-follower, and when you speak to them about how exciting it is to see their faith in action, to see how mature they are in Christ, then they will work that much harder to go in that direction. Your encouragement will lead them to do things for the Kingdom and be the person in Christ they may not have even thought of yet.

If that student with whom you are meeting was the ONLY person left on the planet, Jesus would throw a party for them. Treat them accordingly.

Remember, most ministry, but especially student ministry, is cyclical in nature. Every now and then, you have to start from scratch.  That is not necessarily a “bad thing.” Jesus turned the whole world upside down with 12 unschooled men.  He didn’t start out with 12, but He took who He had and He worked with them. Molding these followers in His own image, He trained them and released them for ministry. Take the folks you have in the ministry you have been charged to take care of, and mold those folks in the image of Jesus. Release them for ministry and watch their world turn upside down for Christ as well.  Do not be discouraged. Discouragement comes from satan. Start where you are, and do your best with those whom have been entrusted to your care. Honor Christ in all you do, and teach those whom you are discipling to do the same. THAT is your calling. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Family, the BEST part

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Over the past two weeks, I have been privileged to be surrounded by all of our kids and grandkids. Given that Ian, McKayla & Landon now live in Arkansas (soon to be in Oklahoma), that is no small feat. Actually, we weren’t sure that we would see them this Christmas until Dec. 23rd! Best. Christmas. Surprise. Ever. (Although Peggy gave me a surprise for the ages on Christmas Day. Guess that will be the subject of my next post).

Sunday, Dec. 27th was Emily’s birthday, and we had all planned to visit Elliott & crew since he was preaching that day. Enter Ian’s crew and we had a first: all of our kids & grandkids with us at church for the first time ever! I spent much of the service holding Landon, while Micah sat beside me. Then, I held Eden with Landon & McKayla on one side and Micah on the other. God and I talked about these babies through the the worship service bringing tears of joys to my eyes on multiple occasions.

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I pray every day for my grand babies. I ask God to raise each of them to be mighty warriors for the Kingdom of Christ. I pray that the Kingdom will be stronger because each of them are part of that Kingdom. I only desire that they will make much of Jesus by the way they live their lives.

I’ve prayed similar prayers for my kids through the years, and God is faithful. I continue praying for them and now get to pray that for the THIRD generation of Blount kids. I am indeed a most blessed man.

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Hearing my son, Elliott, preach on Dec. 27th was a thrill surpassed only by the fact that as he preached, I sat with Abi, Eden, Micah, Ian, Mckayla, Landon, Emily, Bryant, and my Bride Peggy. My heart is still full from this experience. Thank You, God, for blessing me so. May my life bring You joy like You brought to me on this special day.

May each of us take stock of our blessings every day. May we never take them for granted. May we give God the glory always.

Be God’s.

It’s All About Relationship

I spent a little over an hour this morning, “helping” take care of a tech issue with a “Smart TV” with a member of Vero Christian Church .  The family wants to use the Right Now Media app on their TV to be able to put Bible studies right on their television for ministry purposes. This family routinely opens their home to what I call the “hard cases.” Those are new Christians who carry lots of baggage, like addictions of various kinds, dysfunction of all kinds, but who are trying to follow Jesus and need a stable Christian marriage to watch and imitate.

I love the family for whom I “helped” with the TV issue today.  BTW, as always, it was a “simple fix” but it wasn’t simple until we understood what to fix.  It has been fixed, and Right Now Media will likely get more “air time” on that TV than anything else.

As we were conversing while trying to trouble shoot the TV issue, we both celebrated the fact that following Christ involves being in relationship.  It is a multi-faceted relationship, and I want to briefly examine two of those components.

A relationship with Christ.

We need to draw closer to Jesus each day. We need to spend time daily in God’s Word. How can we get to know Jesus better if we don’t spend time with Him in the Word and in prayer? We can’t.  Depending on someone else to always tell us about Jesus is like (thanks Brent Baker for this illustration) eating pre-chewed food. I listen to several sermon podcasts each week, and they are very helpful, but what I need most in my daily growth/walk with Christ is time in the Word of God.  My desire is for my relationship with Jesus to be closer today than it was yesterday.

Set a specific time each day to be in the Word and in prayer. Stick to it. Not as a checklist kind of thing, but as a love thing.  Love to be in the presence of Jesus through the Word and through prayer. Guard that time jealously and do not allow anything to come between you and your “Jesus time.”

How can you be more like Jesus if you don’t know what Jesus is really like?  How can you know what Jesus is really like and not live your life to be more like Him?

Live out your relationship by being more like Jesus each day.  How can you be more like Jesus if you don’t know what Jesus is really like?  How can you know what Jesus is really like and not live your life to be more like Him? Love like Jesus loves.  Unselfishly. Unceasingly.

A relationship with people.

Opening up your heart to others leaves you vulnerable to hurt, pain, and suffering. As C.S. Lewis puts it:

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“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy or at least to the risk of tragedy is damnation. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.”

Loving people the way Jesus loves them means that you will be hurt.  Your heart will be broken. You will need to be a dispenser of Grace. But then, God feels the same way about you.
Pouring your life into people, loving them and serving them is what relationship is all about. Living out your relationship with Christ means that you will pour into the lives of the people Christ brings your way.  That is what Christ-followers do.  That is who we are.  To do any less would be to deny Christ in us.

As I was leaving the house of this Christ-follower today, the comment was made that I had spent over an hour there, and it “probably wasn’t what you had planned for your morning.” Rest assured, the time spent in conversation and prayer while “fixing” the TV issue was the best part of my day.  The encouragement of being around people who are doing their best to live out their faith, to establish relationships with people who will break their hearts…well, that’s what jazzes me.

So, what are some ways you are strengthening your relationship with Jesus?  How are you pouring into the lives of people around you? I’d love to continue the conversation with you, so scroll down and leave a comment below so we can dialogue together.

Be God’s.

Simple One-On-One Discipleship

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One-on-one discipleship is the most difficult and the most rewarding form of discipleship. Bathed in prayer, it can be the highlight of your journey with Christ. Let me suggest 7 steps in a God-honoring discipleship relationship.

Bathed in prayer, it can be the highlight of your journey with Christ.

1. PRAY. Ask God to show you with whom you should enter into a discipleship/mentoring relationship. My problem is that several names come to mind every time I do this. Pray some more. Then pray more. Allow God to reveal that one person to start with, and remember that the goal is to disciple others who will disciple others, so the names that don’t rise to the top at first will get their chance!

2. ASK. Approach the person you would like to disciple and explain what you have in mind. This discipleship/mentoring relationship will involve Bible study, study of other books to enhance your spiritual journey, prayer, practical application, and doing life together. You are asking for a commitment of 2-3 hours a week (part of it in preparation, reading, studying, etc. and part of it in a meeting where you discuss what you are learning, plan practical application, pray, etc.). Ask this person to prayerfully consider this opportunity, and set a day and time for them to get back with you. Pray with them then and there! If their answer is “yes,” then proceed to the next step. If it is “no,” go back to step one and start again. Do not get discouraged! Allow God to lead this process.

3. MEET. Set up a regular meeting time and place. Do this on a weekly basis to start with. Establishing the habit of preparation and meeting is crucial.

4. STUDY. If you are not properly prepared, well duh!

5. PRAY TOGETHER. There is no such thing as an over-emphasis on prayer.

6. PRACTICAL APPLICATION. Formulate an action plan based on what you are studying. What does all of this mean in the real world? How do we apply what we are learning? We are not meeting just to study, if we don’t apply it to our lives, we are wasting time.

7. REPLICATE. At the appropriate time the person you are discipling will be ready to disciple someone else. At that time, having been bathed in prayer, send that disciple to step two (because you have partnered with them in step one – praying with them for someone they will approach to disciple, and they are doing the same for you), set your meeting times to a monthly schedule to make more room to disciple others, and go!

Again, I have a list of some of my favorite discipling study materials, and would gladly email you a copy if you so desire. Discipling others is the command from Christ that most often gets overlooked and underdeveloped. May it never be so again in your life!

Be God’s.

Simple Discipleship in groups

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In my last post, I started the discussion on discipleship looking ever-so-lightly at one-on-one discipleship. I truly believe that the BEST way to disciple others is on a one-on-one, or one-on-two (or three) basis. In fact, I have now decided that this will be a three-part post. In this section, I will examine the small & large group settings, and in the next post, I will be a little more practical in the one-on-one (or two or three) setting.

Small Group Discipleship

I believe the small group setting is crucial for developing disciples of Jesus.  In these small groups, you not only study God’s Word, pray, and discuss practical application of what you are studying, but you DO LIFE together. The small group setting is perfect for social events, like dinners out, trips to the park with the whole family of each group member, etc.

The small group setting is crucial for developing disciples of Jesus.

Doing life together with your small group crew allows you to put into practice what you are learning from God’s Word.  It allows you to put feet on your prayers. It is where the rubber meets the road. I would go so far as to say that if you are not actively participating in a small group, you are not truly growing as a disciple of Jesus.

Small groups are much more than a mere Bible Study. Without the practical application component, such groups are a waste of time. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 8:1, We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

Humans were created by God to be in community.

Humans were created by God to be in community. To encourage each other and build each other up (He. 10:25), to spur one another on to good works (He. 10:24), and to sharpen one another along the way (Pr. 27:17). A small group that actively serves others in the Name of Jesus is the BEST way to help disciples mature in their walk with Christ.

Whether your group meets weekly or at some other regular interval for study, the group NEEDS to meet regularly for service. It is what we do, because of who we are and because of Whose we are.

Large Group Discipleship

This is trickier, but certainly gathering together on the Lord’s Day enhances discipleship. It reminds us that we are not alone or just part of a small group of people who are following Jesus.  It is good to be part of something larger than ourselves, and the Sunday morning gathering is a reminder of that fact. Solid biblical teaching with practical application steps clearly defined, and an encouragement to love God, love people, and serve others provides that “spiritual booster shot” we all need to get the week off on the right foot.

Admittedly, the large group setting is not going to be as deep in the discipleship process as the small group or one-on-one setting.  Remember, Jesus used all three discipleship settings in His earthly ministry: He often taught large crowds, encouraging them to follow Him. He had 12 close followers with whom He went deeper in His teaching and His application. He had three (Peter, James, and John) who were His “inner circle” even among the Apostles.  Let us not forget that John refers to himself as the “Apostle whom Jesus loved,” so obviously John felt a special one-on-one connection with Jesus.

Jesus used all three discipleship settings in His earthly ministry

Yes, all three types of discipleship methods are important. While the church in America has done a decent job in the large group setting, we have not done as well in the small group setting, and I believe we are sorely lacking in the one-on-one setting.  Thus, in my next post, I will give some practical tips on one-on-one discipling.

Be God’s!