Jesus commanded us to make disciples, yet there never seems to be an end to the confusion of what it means to obey Jesus’ command. There are many activities that churches promote, yet if we are not fundamentally making disciples, people who are becoming more like Jesus, then arguably, we are not a church that Jesus promised to build.
Just because we have moved people from the pew into a living room, really means very little. If our small groups, our LIFEgroups aren’t making disciples, teaching people to obey, then we are missing the mark that Jesus set.
In the Christian church we have quite a number of approaches to discipleship. Let me list a few of the most popular.
Mentoring – 1 on 1
While “one-on-one” mentoring can be very personal, it is limited in its ability to multiply. It is like the practice in China of limiting families to one child. It is a method of limiting population growth.
This method also misses the wisdom that comes from the cross matrix of perspectives and learning that comes in a small group setting of 6 to 12 believers learning together. Within the small group setting there is still the opportunity for one-on-one interaction.
Basics of the Faith Class
A 6-12 week class is only the beginning of a life long process of becoming more like Jesus. It requires a depth of relationship beyond merely being instructed by a teacher, providing Biblical content. Paul spoke of being Timothy’s spiritual father. A class does not replace spiritual parents.
Jesus modeled a “relational discipleship model.” He said come be “with” me. As the disciples spent time with Jesus, the faith was more caught than taught. They observed Jesus praying and wanted to know how to pray. They saw him cast out demons and they wanted to know how to do that as well.
Jesus didn’t write books, he wrote on human hearts. Knowledge is important, as the truth will set us free, yet as D.L. Moody commented, God didn’t give us His Word for our information, but for our transformation.
Simply providing people with more information is not the ultimate goal, or else the Pharisees would not have received the harshest of rebukes from Jesus for their hypocrisy.
We should hunger for God’s truth, so that we can “obey everything” Jesus has commanded.
These groups are the wineskin that hold the wine. Relationships with one another are very important, yet if the vertical relationship with God is missing, then the wine in the wineskin is missing.
The common ingredient that all have in common is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet discipleship is a way of life that involves how we live 24/7, not just when we gather in a small group. Our goal constantly is to help each other become more like Jesus every day in every way.
Our focus is to make more and better disciples of Jesus.
Everything we do is built upon our ability to make many and better disciples. Jesus didn’t command us to plant new churches, he commanded us to make disciples who make disciples. When we do that, it naturally leads to starting new churches.
Everything we do as a church is a part of the disciplemaking process. Our Worship Services are part of the process as well as actively serving in a ministry or going on a mission trip, or giving financially. Discipleship is that life-long process of “disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness.
Discipleship is not optional if we are serious about being the kind of church that Jesus promised to build until He comes.
C.S. Lewis stated it this way:
“The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons… are simply a waste of time.”