Disciple: We all know the definition – “a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” Of course, a Christian disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. Churches delight in – and bear the burden of – disciple-making.
At the second SHIFT session, December 2, participants looked in-depth at disciple-making, studying the phases of the discipleship journey.
- Exploring: Why should I become a disciple of Jesus?
- Beginning: What do I need to do to begin living as a disciple of Jesus?
- Growing: How do I live in the presence of Christ? How do I discern God’s calling to serve?
- Maturing: What difference will this make in my life? In my relationships? In my community?
Next, they looked at the implications of these phases for their churches. For example, persons in the exploring phase need to be connected to someone who welcomes and accepts them, and can help them explore the answers to their questions. Persons in the beginning phase might need something more structured, like classes and worship services, centered on topics such as how to pray and study the Bible. However, by the time a person reaches the maturing phase, small groups may have limited effectiveness on growth; an accountable relationship with a discipleship or spiritual mentor may be most helpful. As growth in discipleship continues, the desired path for everyone is to move from dependency on others to facilitate growth to personal responsibility for initiating and sustaining that growth.
Clearly, disciple-making is not a “one class fits all” endeavor. It is based in living, working and being in RELATIONSHIP with those we seek to coach spiritually and those from whom we hope to receive spiritual coaching. From living in relationship, we can more easily discern where people are in their discipleship journey and what growth experiences will benefit them the most.