What does discipleship look like? If you’ve been around Scripture much, you’re probably familiar with the Great Commission that calls us as believers to be involved in making disciples. More specifically, the teaching across the Scriptures is for Jesus’ followers to make disciples who will in turn make more disciples.
But, what exactly does making disciples look like?
After growing up in church culture, serving as a pastor, doing lots of personal study in Scripture, attempting to build discipleship relationships, and gleaning so much from other friendships I’d like to write this post as a form of encouragement.
Discipleship is not rocket science. Discipleship is not complicated. Yet, discipleship is a profound privilege and responsibility.
So often in Christianity and church culture we can over complicate things. Discipleship is one of those areas. There are scores of books and strategies on making disciples.
At the same time, emphasizing the subject is absolutely necessary, for it is the central task we’ve been given to glorify God in this life. We become more like Jesus in our growth in holiness, but our main mission activity is to spread this discipleship life among the nations. Thus, we must focus and promote making disciple-making disciples.
The final area that seems so simple that we can miss it is that while discipleship is passed on, it also carries a two-directional aspect. Here’s what I mean… I long to see others around me meet Jesus and grow in their walk with Him, growing in their Christ-likeness and equipping for service. However, as you spend time with others, they invariably impact your own growth/discipleship. As I look at the apostle Paul, I observe him taking great joy from his relationship with Timothy (2 Tim. 1:4) or giving much thanksgiving for God’s work through the Ephesian church (Eph. 1). Or I think of a leader like Peter who greatly benefited from the loving confrontation of Paul in Galatians 2:11-13. These are just a couple brief examples. Although to disciple one gives us the idea of teaching/mentoring, the one seeking to teach must also be teachable as well.
So what does discipleship look like? Scripture doesn’t specify a curriculum or step by step method. Rather, it (Scripture) is the method. Immerse yourself in Scripture and intentionally surround yourself with both others who still need Jesus (giving you opportunities to reach others with the Gospel) and professing believers who also still need Jesus (ongoing sanctification/discipleship). Surround yourself with Scriptural truths and intentionally pour into each other in everyday life and in planned forms of gathering (whether Sunday church, a Bible study, or a small group).
The two-way direction of discipleship for me looks like a combination of many things. It looks like intentionally talking with people at church each Sunday. It looks like getting to know people during our church’s Sunday school. It looks like asking people over to our home for a meal after a service. It looks like banding together a group of guys for morning coffee and discussion around the Word. It looks like gathering a small group together each week in homes for a time of hanging out, eating, worshipping in song, learning together through discussion around the Word, and praying together. It looks like serving together by loving those in need around us.
However, discipleship for me also looks like gathering some friends for spare of the moment hang outs in someone’s home or backyard. It looks like inviting a bunch of families to go group camping together. It looks like frivolous and intentional conversations around a campfire. It looks like asking for help or responding to a need. For me this has looked like helping a friend move, roofing a house together, mowing a backyard, helping move furniture, cutting trees down, working on cars, watching kids, meeting a financial need, and the list could go on.
Discipleship life also looks like hiking or hunting together as we talk about any random topic. It looks like fishing together with iron sharpening iron conversations. It looks like going out to eat with another family and enjoying conversation. It looks like a double or group date somewhere with low-key conversation as well as intentional ones.
God continues showing me the beauty of two-directional discipleship. As a believer and a pastor, I long to make an eternal impact on those around me… especially those I meet with weekly in groups. But, as I spend time with the friends God gives me and my family, He intends for them to have a discipleship impact back on me too. So may we together be intentional to impact those around us for eternity, but may we also be intentional to look how God may be using those same friends to impact you. It sounds so simple, but it’s an important simple thing to remember.