What is Discipleship?
Many may think that the term disciple refers only to the early followers of Christ. We know that they were a praying, worshipping, loving, giving, and evangelizing group of men and women who refused to keep the truth of the gospel to themselves. Yet, God still desires disciples today—ordinary people like you and me whom God can use to do extraordinary things.
The Christian experience of the believers in the first-century church may seem radical to many in the church today, but to those early believers, it was normal Christianity. And these men and women—empowered and motivated by the Holy Spirit—turned their world upside down for the sake of Christ. In short, they were true disciples of Jesus Christ.
A disciple is defined as a learner, a pupil, one who comes to be taught.
The relationship between the disciple and his teacher is not merely that of a student listening to a lecturer, or a passively interested listener. A disciple listens with attention and intention. He drinks in every word of his teacher, marking every inflection of voice with an intense desire to apply what has been learned.
Discipleship is Modeled
Disciple-making is accomplished by modelers, not just messengers. Disciples develop not merely through the intake of correct information, but also through witnessing the life and choices of other disciples they encounter on their way.
Discipleship is Seen
Jesus tells us in John 15 that we are to abide in him, and we will produce much fruit. In this case, the fruit that others can see come from the fruit of the spirit. We need to be bearing that fruit so that discipleship can take place.
Discipleship Isn’t Mentoring
As we allow others into our lives and let them help us obey Jesus, we also need to reach out and disciple others. But that doesn’t mean we are mentoring others.
Mentoring has to do with what the mentor can offer to someone else through their own wisdom and experience; discipleship has to do with what Jesus can offer to someone else through His wisdom and presence.
This is why you don’t need to have a slew of qualifications to disciple someone else (The original 12 were just “ordinary, unschooled men,” remember?)—you just have to be following and obeying Jesus in your own life and be willing to help someone else do the same.
Discipleship Isn’t “Just Me and Jesus.”
While discipleship is all about Jesus, it’s not a solitary endeavor. Discipleship is relational, and to fully respond to the Great Commission, we need to be disciples who are making disciples of Jesus. This means we need to spend consistent time with other believers.
Jesus and His disciples spent a lot of time together (Acts 1:21-22). They ate together, walked together, rode in boats together. They even fought together (Luke 9:46-48).
The 12 disciples were in one another’s lives, constantly and intentionally.
How Should We Disciple?
Affirm their identity in Christ
⁃ Everyone deeply longs to know they’re loved. Help them understand who they are, and their relationship to the Trinity.
Encourage them to begin acting in their gifting
⁃ We must show them how we act in our gifting, to give them a practical understanding of what it looks like. Be willing to demonstrate.
Teach them how to discern God's voice
⁃ The Creator of everything longs to talk to his creation. We must disciple those around us to understand his voice, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, how to pray, and how to discern the voice of God through the sharing of words and prophecy.
Show them how to study the Bible in a group, and on their own
⁃ We need to be able to help them understand how to read and study the bible. Begin with Observation, Interpretation, Application (OIA).
Demonstrate the value of fellowship
⁃ This is vital. We must make time for each other, and value that time as sacred. Show up on time. Do what you say you’re going to do. Make sure to keep your word, and be intentional.
Discuss how to confidently share Jesus and their testimony
⁃ Disciples need to have a firm understanding of how to share the gospel, along with their testimony. It’s our responsibility to help them understand HOW.
Hold them to a higher standard
⁃ It’s our job to make sure those we’re teaching and equipping are held accountable. We must be willing to share when we see issues arise. Remember, we must share the truth in love.
Start discerning God's unique calling for them
⁃ If someone gives Jesus their whole life, what does that mean for their career? Does God care whether someone becomes a lawyer, a musician, or a truck driver? Be intentional in your discussions about how God can use your group members' passions and talents in combination with his mission for the world.
Explore how God can heal their brokenness
⁃ Whether a Christian wrestles with an eating disorder, pornography addiction, recreational drug use, or a lifelong grudge, God wants to restore his children fully. Spend time leading those you disciple in confession, prayer, and Scripture to build faith in God’s ability to rescue them from the difficult issues affecting them inside and out.
Prepare them for real life
⁃ Every relationship will have ups and downs, even a close relationship with God. It’s important to help prepare Jesus’ disciples to understand the ebbs and flows. We must be willing to share our own struggles and issues with those around us.
Practical Biweekly Discipleship Plan
This discipleship time is meant to take place outside of Wednesdays during life
group and Sundays during church. This is such an amazing opportunity to see
growth in our lives as believers and create a culture where others can come in to
meet Jesus. Below we have listed criteria for what we ask you to commit to as a
member of Sandbox.
Meet Every Other Week (twice a month)
o Try to make time for a 1 Hour Meeting
o Discus what you are learning through our daily Bible reading, prayer time, and worship
o Conversations about current Life Group materials
o Purity Report
What to Accomplish
o Learn how to hear the voice of God
o Walk in purity
o Grow in Prayer and Fasting
o Learn how to be an extravagant giver (time, resources, financially)
o Follow a Bible reading plan
o Read another book
o Sacrifice Good things to simplify life and make room for more of God
o Pray for each other consistently
o Allow me to have authority to speak into your life and trust my instructions
o Be committed to regularly meet and make the meeting a top priority
Jesus asked us to take over the family business of making disciples as his last request and that is an exciting thought! We ask that you approach discipleship as one of the greatest opportunities to not only grow in your relationship with Jesus but to also see others walk in the plans God has for them. Your time does not have to be boring! Go have fun when you meet up. For some of you that might mean going fishing others it could be shopping (for the homeless) or just meeting up for dinner, coffee, and early breakfast before work at Whataburger! As Elders we are very excited for this and believe it contains the key to our next step as a church! Please reach out to your life group leaders and the Elders over your life group with any questions about the plan.