Discipleship is a buzz word today in our church circles and rightly so. If you were to type “discipleship” into an Amazon.com search you would receive over 11,000 results. “Transformational,” “Gospel-centered,” “Organic,” “Real-life;” all types of discipleship.
So, what is discipleship and how do we do it? I guess there is no easy way to define discipleship in one simple statement. Nor is it simple to give the nuts and bolts behind discipleship, hence the number of books on the subject.
When I think of discipleship I am automatically taken back to the Great Commission of Matthew 28. I know, the Great Commission is “supposed” to be about evangelism and going to every corner of the globe, which I agree with whole-heartedly. We preach missions, support missions, pray for missions, give to missions and encourage the sending of missionaries at my church. So don’t hear this as an anti-missions rant. But missions is not the ONLY thing being spoken about here.
Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (emphasis mine.)
Here is the kicker for discipleship: once you have all these “disciples” or followers/learners, you must “disciple” them or teach them. And what are you teaching them? To observe or obey all that Christ has commanded us. I don’t think that it is a stretch to say that Christ’s teachings and principles are contained in all of Scripture. Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
So what is the basis of discipleship? Teaching new disciples Scripture and how to be obedient to it. (Hey, I guess there is a easy way to define it in one sentence!)
Now, how do we do that? That is the tricky part. Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing my thoughts on what our church is planning as far as a discipleship plan.
Yes, there must be a plan. Discipleship does not happen spontaneously. It must be planned and executed. I don’t care how organic you make it, discipleship is a deliberate act. If it were easy then there wouldn’t be so many books.
I hope you join me in our venture together. I promise, this won’t become book number 11,000 and counting on Amazon. (Don’t hold me to that!)