We will be posting each chapter of the book Everyday Discipleship: Authentic, Organic Discipleship for the 21st Century here on this blog. Today, we are posting the Introduction to the book. Feel free to download each chapter. Later, we may have the book available for sale on Amazon or other book sites, but for now, these chapters are free to download and use. They are copyrighted, so they are not free to sell, change, or print other than for personal use in your discipleship ministry.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20, NLT)
Jesus left us with a clear command to disciple others. I am so thrilled you have accepted that calling. I pray God will use you and your story of your walk with God to bless and challenge those you disciple.
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
(1 Corinthians 11:1, NLT)
Whether you are new to disciple-making or are already involved in leading a group, this book is designed to help you address topics we should consider with those coming to Christ in the 21st Century. We want to train and equip them well, but we also may need to unlearn some understandings and worldviews they’ve built in their lives. Sometimes we even find a few ideas we’ve adopted that are contrary to Scripture as well. We pray the Lord will continually open our eyes to those places in our lives. We pray He fills each of us with His wisdom and renews our minds so that we are walking in His truth and living according to His Word.
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
(1 Timothy 4:8-12, NLT)
You can use these lessons as a point for discussion in your already established discipleship groups, or you can use them as your lesson for discipleship training. We encourage you to use the “Sticky Quotes” as something everyone can hold onto for remembering the key point in each lesson. We also encourage you and those you lead to memorize scripture each week. We will suggest a Scripture, but we encourage you to consider memorizing whole books of the Bible or large sections of Scripture. Your group may decide to memorize a section of Scripture instead of the verses we suggest in each lesson.
Even though we are referring to discipleship groups, we feel that the best discipleship happens one-on-one or in smaller groups or at least smaller interactions. Jesus had twelve main disciples and focused closely on three. For most of us, we seem to be most effective in small groups of 2-3 disciples and a disciple-maker.
Now, as we begin, we have a few reminders of what we do as we disciple others.
The 10 Practices of Being a Disciple-Maker
- Teaching: Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:19-20 to “make disciples of all nations” and to “teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” We don’t have to be seminary graduates to disciple others. Notice we teach the things we’ve learned to others. If God has saved you and given you new life, you have something to share and teach. Of course, we all should be reading our Bible and learning more all the time. And like most great teachers, we encourage questions. Really, questions are vital. We need our disciples to ask questions. It reveals their hearts and minds and what they have understood or not understood. Questions, though sometimes scary for us, are truly a blessing. Questions mean they are thinking, searching, and taking their faith seriously. It means they are grappling with what they should be grappling with. It means they are counting the cost. The lessons in each lesson are by design created to bring up the questions your students may have. You are there, equipped by God, to help walk them through this part of their journey with Christ.
- Teachability: We teach, but we are also teachable. We are all learning daily and seeking to grow closer to the Lord. We all learn new things about God each time we read His Word. We will never be done learning. It’s important that we keep this attitude and practice, and it’s important that those we disciple see that we are still learning and growing in our faith. It also keeps our hearts in the right place. One of our biggest enemies in any ministry is pride. Humility needs to be central in our character, and teachability helps keep us there. A major part of teachability is spending time with God’s Word. We must be reading and learning the Word of God at least four times a week – daily is even better and is ideal, but at least four times a week is the goal we set.
- Transparency: our commitment is one of offering the opportunity for disciples to walk alongside us, watching us as we live out our faith and wrestle with our own questions. We cannot make the mistake of giving fellow disciples a false picture of “perfection.” If we don’t know an answer to their question, we are honest and let them know that we will research it and share the answer the next time we meet. We can go to our own mentor or pastor and seek help. We must be honest, authentic, and realistic about the Christian life and our own walk. Vulnerability and transparency is part of our calling in this endeavor.
- Trust: In all we do as disciple-makers, we need to trust God. He’s the One in control. He’s the One who will give us His wisdom. And our disciple is ultimately His disciple. I find it comforting to remember these facts. It can help us be better disciple-makers because we can rest in God’s leadership and knowing that He is in control. Trust Him, trust His word, and trust the Holy Spirit’s help.
- Testing: We are all called to test the spirits of every teacher, every doctrine. We need to test our own hearts and test that we are staying true to God’s word. This is discernment, and we are all told to use it. Discernment is essential. Today, more than we’ve experienced in our lifetime, we are seeing heresies come into the Church. The Church has always struggled with believing false doctrines and holding on to “pet” ideas, but it just seems to have amped up in recent years. We must ask God for wisdom and discernment and then use them.
- Testimonies: Testimonies are powerful. We are strengthened, and those we disciple are strengthened when we share what God has done in our lives. We are glorifying Him and acknowledging His work in our lives. Those who are being discipled should also share their testimonies with us and with others. It is also the most natural way to begin sharing the Gospel with others. We tell them the difference God has made in our lives or how He has helped us.
- Talk: First, is talking and listening to God in prayer. Prayer is a vital part of our walk with God and of helping our disciple grow in Christ. Second is listening to those we disciple as they talk. Having someone we’re ministering to or discipling open up and talk is one of the best things. We can hear their pain, their joy, and their needs. We should rejoice when they open up to us and being to really talk. And third is always being willing to talk about tough topics. We don’t want to always be talking and controlling the conversation; however, we do want to be open to discussing anything with those we disciple. We should let them ask the tough questions and wrestle with God’s word. Seriously, especially in today’s culture, we need to allow discussions about anything. If we are meeting in a group setting, we may want to steer the conversation a bit more, but one-on-one, we should let our disciples know they can ask us anything and talk about anything they need to. Sometimes it is the only way we can learn about wrong ideas, beliefs, and understandings they may have.
- Tractability: This means flexibility. As a leader, we must be flexible. Life happens, and sometimes plans change. And, more importantly, sometimes the Holy Spirit changes our plans. Being flexible means that God can direct us where He needs us to go.
- Time: Being a disciple-maker takes time and energy. It is a commitment, and it is not a commitment to be entered into lightly. That doesn’t mean we should assume we can just choose not to disciple others. It is the one job Jesus commanded us with when He ascended into heaven. However, we need to take the call and the commitment seriously. We need to build fellowship and relationship, and we can do neither without spending time with someone. We suggest committing to connecting four times a week even if by text. In an ideal week, we would see our disciples on Sundays and fellowship and worship with them at church. Maybe we’d have lunch together after church. Hopefully we will have at least one more face-to-face contact with them during the week. The other two connections may be by phone, text, email (not the best), or chat. But these little connections can have big impact. Four times a week or more should be our goal.
- Tea: Okay, I couldn’t find another “t” word for hospitality, so I went with tea. Even if we don’t have the gift of hospitality, we need to be hospitable to people. When people come to our home, they should feel welcome and comfortable. If we are not in a situation where we can meet in our home, we may need to meet in another member’s home or in a tea shop/coffee shop. But wherever we meet, the goal is for our disciple to feel comfortable and welcomed.
If we can put all ten of these into practice, we will be able to connect with those we disciple and continue to grow in our relationship with God as well.
Some practical guidelines if you are just beginning to disciple others.
- Talk to those you’ll be working with
- Plan a time to meet together
- When you meet let them know your goal is four interactions per week. You want to touch base on Sundays, having a meal together when possible. You’ll have your weekly meeting/discussion time, and you’ll plan to chat/text at least two other times each week.
- If you have the time and freedom to do so, we highly recommend meeting up 3-4 times a week. We recognize that may be impossible for some, but if you are able, it is worth it.
- Most meetings/chats will focus on what each of you has read/gleaned from Scripture addressing any questions that have arisen from the Scripture read.
- The main gathering with the main lesson will focus on Scripture the topic in the lesson that week.
- In the first meeting, discuss keeping what is shared in your group confidential. Remind everyone that the group is a place where we can ask questions, share doubts, confess sin, and ask for prayer. Nothing is off-limits to ask you; however, some topics may be better discussed privately.
- For the weekly, more formal meeting, we suggest planning for 1-2 hours, and hold to that faithfully. Extra questions and discussion can take place after the meeting, but respecting everyone’s schedule is important.
- Admit when you don’t know the answer to a question, and get back to them the following week with the answer after you’ve researched it or spoken to your pastor or other leader.
- Pray daily for those you disciple, and daily ask God for wisdom as you lead.
God bless you as you help the next generation of Christians grow in their walk with God.
Copyright 2024, Everyday Everywhere Publishers, Bixby, Oklahoma.