What Discipleship Isn’t
“What curriculum do you use to disciple new believers? How many lessons are in your discipleship series? How long does it take to get through them? These are some of the first questions I often hear soon after diving into how we prioritize discipleship above all else in our ministry in Chile. But these aren’t the right questions!
So many guys are looking for that secret bullet. What’s the resource? The book? The course? The model? The guru? How can I get my people from where they are now to super-maturity with the least amount of effort and in the least amount of time?
As we consider what biblical discipleship is, let’s first consider what discipleship isn’t.
Discipleship isn’t a:
1. Program your church needs to implement – Discipleship is not a program! It’s the local church’s mission. The Great Commission is all about making disciples.
2. Series of lessons – Stop thinking of the tools. Discipleship lessons are one of the tools we can use in the discipleship process. Here’s an illustration that might help clear this misconception up:
If I were to ask, “What elementary school do you use to rear your child?”, how would you answer? With one eyebrow raised in confusion, you would probably struggle to say that the question doesn’t even make sense! It’s presuming that one has a direct relation to the other. But they don’t have a direct relationship. An elementary school is a good tool, but it’s not child rearing. Biblical discipleship is much more akin to child rearing! The lessons are like the elementary school. The school teaches some basic skills the child needs to face adulthood, but it by no means rears healthy, well-rounded children. That’s the parents’ job. Lessons never equal discipleship.
3. New members class – While I’m a huge proponent of new members classes, they are not discipleship. New members classes familiarize the new congregant with the church’s beliefs, expectations, and culture. They fall way short of “making a true follower of Christ”.
4. Bible doctrines study – The goal of discipleship isn’t information, it’s transformation. While doctrines will be learned during the process, it’s not the primary goal.
5. Task for the Pastoral staff – Who should disciple others? Every Christian! Stop thinking that discipleship is something only the pastors, deacons, or Sunday school teachers should do. No, you should be discipling other believers.
I know you’ve been taught to think of classes and curriculum, but start thinking more of a mentoring relationship with a friend who is growing in his or her relationship with Christ.