Teaching how Christans live in discipleship is what Jesus Christ did.
Discipling the Jesus way
"What is discipleship? How do I disciple someone? Why do I need discipleship? Did Jesus disciple? and Will you disciple me?" are questions I hear regularly in the world I live in.
People in general are curious about what it means to be discipled but really have no idea how to do it. I've found that some, however, really don't understand why it's needed because they've never experienced a healthy model or example of discipleship in their lives.
Discipleship tends to be a little foggy in the life of most Christians and unfortunately I've found it a little funky in the lives of others. Discipleship is sometimes pushed away because it's misunderstood or used improperly. Discipleship for some has also become judgmental, rigid, and unfortunately lacks much life at all. There is no real relationship with anyone else and no help is offered to help them become who God has designed them to be.
I've heard it said that discipleship is the great omission in the approach of most Christians. It's simply not in their scope of importance. Not only for their own growth but allowing others to grow in, around, and through their lives.
In this article I'll share some key ideas on discipleship, and discipling. We'll look at:
- The basic definition of disciple
- What is discipling
- How Jesus did it
- And I'll share some additional resources with you
Let's define a disciple
Simple definition: a deciple
- One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.
- An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy.
- Often Disciple One of the original followers of Jesus.
- Disciple A member of the Disciples of Christ.
Wikipedia describes a Christian disciple this way " In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to 'the Twelve' ".
The English word, disciple, is derived from the Latin, discipulus, meaning “a learner or pupil; a trainee; follower, one who accepts and follows a given doctrine or teacher student, disciple”
Ok - with that foundation set, let's look at discipling.
Replicating your DNA in another is true discipleship.
Let's use the video above to help us understand this idea a little further. After watching the short one minute video glean from it these ideas making sure your focusing in on the idea of disciple making:
- DNA Replication is defined as the process by which an organisms original DNA is used as a template for the production of a new complementary DNA strand.
- DNA needs to split before it replicates.
- Free nucleotides are already there, but now they can attach themselves due to an opening.
- The new DNA strand consists of one part of the old and one part of the new.
What is discipling
We could use many words to define discipling like; teaching, caring, loving, supporting, encouraging, correcting, sharing, doing.
We could use some relationship models to describe discipling like; doing life together, being there for each other, being authentic, being real, just being there.
Making a real disciple will require you to be present in their lives. Birthed from that trusting, honest relationship comes the ability to speak into someones life at the level you need to in order for them to really grasp who Jesus is, what He is, and what He has done in their lives.
Replicating Christ into someones life is key to disciple making. Spending time passing onto another the life Christ has put in you and simultaneously teaching them to express Jesus uniquely themselves is fundamental in creating disciples that will create disciples.
Mentoring is a rich element of discipleship that most don't get to experience. It's sad to me when I sit with someone that has never experienced the deep benefit of fully giving into someone whom they admire and respect. Someone who can speak into their life from years of experience walking with Christ. When you have a relationship like this your vision ofbeing like Jesus seems to more easily come into focus. You are able to ride on their shoulders and reach new heights with your relationship with Christ because of the life and example they share with you. A mentoring relationship is kinda like cheating and in this instance, I don't mind cheating.
The Apostle Paul was very clear when he shared his ideas of replication and mentoring in these two scriptures; “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) and “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9). Paul was encouraging the Christians of his time to follow him as he showed them how to follow Jesus. This attitude of full devotion is a transferable attitude that will go from disciple to disciple, generation to generation. It's not a seasonable trait.
How Jesus discipled
Mark 9:2-4 NLT "Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus."
Mark 3:14 NLT "Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach"
Luke 10:1-3 NLT "The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves."
Whether it was the three, the twelve, or the seventy(seventy-two) Jesus' life was a life of a disciple maker. The Jesus model of ministry was always; do and they watch, do together, watch and they do, they do by themselves and that part usually included a sending. We need to do the same when we aim to make disciples. Trusting and releasing those we disciple is a big part of why we want to raise them up in the first place. Its not to keep them dependent on us, but to cause them to realize how dependent they are of the Father. Jesus modeled this way of life, so should we.
Disciple making can't really be learned academically, although I encourage reading and learning about it. Discipleship isn't about a model or specific way of doing it to be successful although I employ several models in my disciple making relationships. Those things don't really make disciples.
Making disciples, if we simplify the whole process, is a life of modeling it. Living out Jesus in front of people causing an echo of this lifestyle to impact them and cause them to continue the same thing. It's a multiplication.
Servant leadership, meeting with them, laughing with them, crying with them. If it was as easy as cracking open one book, one time, then Christianity would be spreading like we saw in the early church. But the lost art of disciple making is hard. And that's why many don't use it, or get impacted by it. It's one on one, dirty, real and unpredictable. That can be scary for some, but it's a necessity if we want to build and release quality Christians.
What is the value you place on MAKING disciples? (Five highest)
What is the value you place on BEING discipled? (Five highest)
There are numerous scriptures to encourage us about discipleship and disciple making. The important thing to remember is that being a disciple and making disciples is something Jesus desires for all of us. Scripture is clear, let's look at a few for clarity;
Being a disciple: "Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher." Luke 6:40 NLT.
Making disciples: "Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT
Much can be said about discipleship.
The need in the church today is great for real, authentic discipleship and the gift of one on one disciple making is missing in individuals around the Christian world. To be a disciple maker you need to be a disciple fully devoted to the Father and earnestly following Christ. To cause a generational, transformational, discipleship lifestyle you need to be willing to give up the time it will take to be with people. It's not designed to be easy, it's not designed to happen overnight, it's designed by Jesus to transform lives into being like Jesus. And that's why I love it!
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