How do we define discipleship in our churches? What does discipleship look like in daily life? Webster’s Dictionary describes Discipleship as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: such as Christianity: one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ’s followers according to the Gospel accounts”.
Discipleship should be an ongoing process where we make disciples who make disciples. This is shown in the Bible through Jesus and His disciples. It says in Matthew 28:18-20,
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Making disciples is an important part of our walk as Christians.
Discipleship through Daily Life.
“we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1 Thessalonians 2:12
It can be difficult to realize how we should be acting when everyone around us has a bad attitude. There is always something someone says that is insensitive or hurtful and we as believers need to know how to handle those situations. Some of my favorite verses that have to do with this subject are Proverbs 15:1-2 which say, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”
We are the “Light of the world” as it says in Matthew 5:14, and we need to act accordingly. Every day is a new opportunity to show Christ to the ones around us. We should be using our work environment to be the example that our fellow believers need to see. It may look like holding your tongue when someone slanders you, praying with each other for your coworker’s salvation, or maybe starting a bible study with your fellow believers during break time. Be the encouragement to your fellow believers that you need them to be to you.
We are called to “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
This is not just for people with kids. If you have nephews and nieces or are even around children it is so important to remember that they need guidance too. Children are very impressionable. It is important to be the Christ-like example that children need to see. Children are our disciples and we need to show them how to live lives that honor God. All discipleship should begin at home. In a recent Barna Study a Christian Educator said this about discipleship: “In two words, discipleship could be described as spiritual parenting.“
I recommend setting aside time on a regular basis to engage with your children in intentional discipleship. It is so easy to let weeks and months simply pass us by without making a spiritual investment in our children. Intentional time during breakfast or dinner can be a great way to start!
Through Small Groups.
Small groups are a great way to make disciples! In a recent Barna study, 90% of Church leaders recommend using small group studies or discussion groups for spiritual growth. Many churches have found that small groups can be used as more than just a typical Bible study.
Small groups are now being used as a platform for disciples to build each other up and encourage each other in their daily walk. And if it is a healthy small group, then members will bring in more people and break off into their own small groups to make disciples.
This reminds me of the early church back in Bible times. Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37 give brief glimpses into what our small groups could look like. We as believers should be holding fast to what we know is true through daily devotion and encouragement from our fellow believers. For more information on this subject check out our blog post on 5 Ideas for Creating Discipleship in Your Small Group.
Discipleship through One on One Relationships.
One on one discipling is not easy! It takes time and effort, but it is beyond rewarding.
“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.” 1 Corinthians 4:15-17
What do you think is the number one reason that most choose not to disciple one on one? Some say they are too busy, or they don’t feel like they can commit. A recent study says that the number one reason that people choose not to disciple one on one is that they do not feel qualified!
I feel very strongly that if the Lord is calling you to reach out to another person then He is going to give you all the qualifications you need. Another way to feel more ready to disciple another is to find someone to disciple you. Talk to your pastor or someone that you feel is strong in this area, and ask them to teach you how to disciple well. The Bible also has many good examples of people who discipled others.
- Elijah (who discipled Elisha)
- Jesus (who discipled the 12)
- Paul (who discipled Luke and Timothy)
- Barnabas (who discipled Timothy and Mark)
How do we search for people to disciple with one on one?
Anyone the Lord is calling you to! But some great places to start would be teens, young adults, newly married couples, and anyone that is going through a trial.
I remember being a teenager, and longing for someone who would take me under their wing and disciple me. Unfortunately, since I was also extremely shy I didn’t have the courage to ask someone to disciple me, so I just waited to see if someone would ask me.
Ever since then I have found a longing to reach out to teen girls in my church. I remember the struggle that I went through and want to encourage them in their various walks with the Lord.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:8-9
Discipleship is a key aspect in our churches today. We, as believers in Christ, need to be striving to be better disciples and disciplers. Not only in our weekly church time but in our daily lives. This is how we can live out the Great Commission—by making disciples who make disciples.
What form of discipleship have you experienced? Was there one that helped you more than another? Comment below with your thoughts and experiences!