I was challenged in college to develop my own discipleship strategy which started a journey in my life that I’m still on to truly understand discipleship and what it means to followers of Christ. I’ve come to a decent understanding of it’s implications, but every day God shows me more and more just how important and vital disciple is to each of us. So what is Discipleship? What does it look like?
There is so much to discipleship that it’s hard to narrow it down into a single definition. Some say it’s “Doing life together” while others see it as training younger men in women in the faith. If you look at Paul’s ministry you’ll see discipleship include: Instruction, encouragement, preaching and teaching, building relationships and many others. Looking at the Greek word for disciple you’ll see that it means “taught or trained one.” Can you even summarize all the aspect of discipleship into one definition? Well, I tried it! By no means is my definition perfect. I’m human so it’s probably far from perfect, but this is how I see discipleship in light of history and importantly the Bible.
“The process by which a Christian with a life worth modeling commits him/herself for an extended period of time to a spiritual child that has accepted Christ with the purpose to aid and guide their growth to maturity and equip them to live a life worth modeling so that they may reproduce themselves in a third spiritual generation.”
Pretty awesome definition huh!? In all seriousness thought this seems to be what Jesus did with his disciples and what Paul practiced in his ministry. Jesus was perfect. Obviously, His life is worth modeling. Paul wasn’t perfect, but had such a passion and desire to do God’s will that his life is a life worth modeling. Both, Jesus and Paul had men they spend significant amounts of time with teaching and training in life and ministry. Jesus and Paul unleashed the men they had trained into the world to do what they did – make disciples.
I like the way that Kristen Carr describes discipleship in The Greenhouse Project. She says that training should look like,
“An older man or woman of discretion, integrity, discipline, and holiness, who is willing to be broken bread and poured-out wine so that a younger man or woman can be fully trained in the reality and truth of following the Lord the way He longs to be followed.”
We have the same challenge that Christ gave to His disciples and that Paul practiced on a regular basis. We are to make disciples that make disciples (Matt. 28:19). Understanding what discipleship is will help us to accomplish the goal that Christ gave. There’s value to discipleship and we’ll look at that in more detail in part three. Check back soon!