Why "Discipleship For All"
My life has been changed by women who believed that disciples of Jesus make disciples. They were women who knew that loving me meant caring about my growth. They weren’t afraid to toil and labor to teach me, encourage me, and exhort me.
There are two who immediately come to mind. In college, one such woman taught me how to study the Bible as we read it one on one. She then taught me how to express the gospel to others (a life-changing event). Over the years, I followed her across the world and across campus learning to lead and make disciples. Years later a woman poured into my life with her wisdom and knowledge. She (seemingly magically) knew my thoughts, my twisted sinful ways of thinking, to which I had been blind. She would graciously speak truth and ask me provoking questions, always pointing me back to Jesus. I had such great respect for her and knew she loved me, so I listened. Both of these sisters helped me understand more. I’ve always loved books, and they gave me books! But more than that, they cared about my heart. And they powerfully prayed for me.
Discipleship is the heartbeat of ministry. It is caring about another person’s journey as they learn to follow Jesus Christ. Obviously, we are striving to influence disciples every time we teach, facilitate, and share. But there is a unique place for personal discipleship - the intentional relationships we form to walk together as followers of Jesus.
"Well, those are some nice stories,” you may say.
But why do we make disciples?
1. Jesus Commanded It
When Jesus left his instructions to his disciples, they were clear- “Make disciples!” They were to tell of the good news, helping people come to a point of decision in following and getting baptized. Then they were to teach all that Jesus had commanded, which meant that these new disciples were also called to make more disciples. Thus the multiplication of disciples began. From those first disciples down through the centuries to today, God’s plan has always been to use us – to allow us to be involved in his work. Disciples of Jesus are disciple makers.
2. The New Testament Church Exemplified It
The early followers of Jesus saw that part of their discipleship was to be involved in the multiplication of the church. Pricilla and Aquila taught Apollos. Eunice taught her son Timothy. Paul taught Epaphras. Then Epaphras went to Colossae to tell the gospel, and a church was planted! So the pattern went.
Not solely a pattern, we see a charge to discipleship. When Paul teaches Timothy, he instructs him to continue the multiplication. Paul tells him, as the pastor in Ephesus, to entrust what he has heard to others who can teach it to more. (2 Tim. 2:1-2) We see it again laid out in the book of Titus, who was to instruct older women to teach younger women what it looks like to honor the Lord in their lives. As disciples, they are to apply the sound doctrine to every aspect of their lives, and we will need help from others to do this! God had made discipleship a community project.
3. Our Love Demands It
If we truly love someone we cannot help but care for their spiritual growth. (John 13:35) This is part of practicing the “one anothers” we live out in community. So we choose deliberate relationships, ones in which we care about the growth of another. We cannot change hearts or cause growth, but we can create intentional friendships and spiritual nurturing. We instruct, restore, teach, exhort, stir up, and welcome. We serve each other with the gifts we have received.
Intentionally helping others grow in their faith is for everyone. Not just for those who feel “wired” that way or those we think are “super gifted.” This is part of the mission to which God has called all of us. Disciples of Jesus make disciples. We spend time with children – ours and others’. We engage high schoolers. We meet college students for coffee. We use our lunch break wisely. We invite people into our homes for meals. All with the purpose of helping them come to know Jesus and grow into mature followers of our Savior.
While this may sound like meddling, it is the best adventure that we could be offered. It’s the mission the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives. God has invited his church to be involved in each other’s growth. That’s why discipleship is for all.
Verity Forum on May 7th will have a track of workshops focused on “Discipleship for All.” Read more about the workshop tracks and download the media from the event on the Verity Forum 2016 event page.