This Monday and Wednesday and Friday, here is a chapter from the book Live Sent on disciple making. Thought it might be helpful as we pray for the Lord to sharpen us as parents to make disciples who make disciples as SENT kids. Hope it encourages you!
So, what is discipling? I want to suggest this basic definition:
Discipling is learning and living the ways of Jesus so that others learn and live His ways, too, so that others learn and live His ways, too, and so on.
Discipling is all about proclaiming the message that God has come near. As we live His ways, we show His love by how we come near as a friend to the people around us every day, not only through some service project. That’s how other disciples are made—they catch it as we do life with them.
Thus, it is a process. However, it is not and must not be simply a linear process. It is instead a very fluid, ongoing process.
Jesus taught His followers over time. He did this in the middle of relationship with them. He did this in the middle of a process that allowed them to learn and live, to be served and to serve, to have both theory and practice. He released them to connect and engage and learn and live and lead others to Him immediately. It is easy then to conclude that discipling is a process which has as its core value the necessity of doing life together.
[This week] May I suggest three essentials of discipling? These three do not flow from A to Z. They ebb and flow. Each may be involved at any one time, while all may be involved at any one time. It’s kind of fluid like that, kind of messy like that, kind of unpredictable like that. Kind of like doing life together.
The first element I would suggest for the discipling process is relationship. Every aspect of learning the ways of Jesus and living the ways of Jesus is both validated and authenticated inside relationship. We were made for togetherness. We are stifled when we are alone. The church is people following Jesus together, not an individual.
Relationship is paramount. Discussing the teachings of Jesus requires relationship. In fact, I have seen so often that true transformation happens in the midst of ongoing relational dialogue. That’s evident in the discipling process for those who walked face-to-face with Jesus.
Accountability for living out the teachings of Jesus requires relationship. Our culture pretends that hierarchical structures encapsulate accountability, but forced or enforced accountability is not true accountability at all.
When I do something for someone because I have to rather than because I want to, or when I am motivated by obligation rather than love, that is not accountability as described in the New Testament. It is not based in reciprocal relationship. It is not based in love. It is not based in common purpose with the goal of unified restoration and growth. It is, you do something for me or you are fired or don’t get paid, etc. Accountability doesn’t really exist, at least as modeled by Jesus and described in the New Testament, apart from relationship.
Multiplicative results for discipling cannot happen without relationship. Multiplication in the literal sense, being fruitful and multiplying, can only happen within relationship. In the figurative sense, the necessity for relationship is the same. If we are to see disciples made, then we must engage people in genuine friendship. Multiplication cannot be programmed. It happens. It blossoms. It is a product of relationships that flourish and have purpose.
When we befriend someone, our agenda must be more than just adding them to our church membership. Rather, we should walk with them in such a way that they taste and see the love of Jesus, that they witness His ways lived out, and that they learn His ways and follow. This multiplication becomes exponential when it is not constrained by programming standards. It becomes exponential when relationship allows it the freedom to blossom.
Wednesday and Friday – the second and third essential.