Dear Pastor Chris,
Could you please answer 3 questions for an assignment I have due?
a. How do you go about the discipleship process?
b. What are key elements that you think are necessary to the discipleship process?
c. Is there anything you would change about the way you do discipleship in your church?
Jesus gave us the best example of the discipleship process. He preached to crowds but spent time with twelve individuals. Out of the twelve He spent extra time with three men (James, Peter, and John).
From this we learn the value of small groups as a starting point in discipleship. We also see that there are some people that God calls us to invest in their spiritual growth with additional personal time and energy.
Jesus’ example of discipleship was similar to the concept of on the job training. He was there for His inner group in a variety of situations. Sometimes He directly taught them. At other times he let them serve and come back to report. At other times He let them observe how He “did ministry” as He related to others. Sometimes He questioned their thinking. At other times He encouraged them. His lifestyle was so profound in its impact on them that they asked Him to teach them how to pray. They wanted to grow spiritually because of what they saw in Him.
Bottom line: there are things people need to know about God and the Bible. This is usually attained through didactic teaching and study. There are other things that people need to know that are only discovered through relationship and service (the applying of our faith). Even Paul wrote most of his letters in two parts, orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Orthodoxy is the concepts of theology (Ephesians 1-3). Orthopraxy is the application or the living out of theology (Ephesians 4-6). Orthodoxy is the “what” and orthopraxy is the “so what.” We need both.
In our church we have Sunday worship which is speaking to the crowds. We have Adult Bible Fellowships which is smaller in its focus, but still speaking to the crowds (although smaller crowds). We have small groups that meet throughout the week (our version of the twelve meeting with Jesus). We also have a one-on-one discipleship ministry called Operation Timothy that we got from the Christian Businessmen’s Connection (CBMC).
I believe that the best results come from developing followers of Jesus who want to grow and are seeking to be obedient to Him. More energy needs to be put into sincere followers of Jesus. We put too much effort into disobedient Christians who may or may not be genuine followers of Christ.