Practical Discipleship - How Do We Disciple Others?

Sorry for the late post. I'm sure all of you are waiting for this next part so here it goes... 

By Jason Weimer, Western Pennsylvania Catalytic Team

So, discipleship is developing someone in the character and actions of Jesus, and equipping them to develop others. It is simply passing on what you’ve learned and been trained in to others. To be a discipler, you first need to be a disciple. You need to be growing in order to help others grow.

The next question one might ask is: How exactly do I do this? How do I effectively pass on what I’ve learned to those I’ll disciple? There are five essential elements in discipleship: Evangelism, Fellowship, Teaching, Training, and Prayer. These are the nuts and bolts of your discipleship appointments, the mechanism through which you can pass on what you’ve learned. We’ll take a look at each one individually.

Evangelism - It has been said that “discipleship without evangelism is just counseling.” If we aren’t taking our disciples out to share their faith, we become nothing more than a counselor trying to help sort out their issues and problems. Jesus called us to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), and the first step in making disciples is sharing the Gospel with those who don’t yet know Christ.

We need to be teaching our disciples how to share their faith with others so they can effectively reach others with the Gospel. The most practical way to teach someone how to share his faith is to actually go out and do it. This can be by taking him out to a dorm or the student union and doing spiritual questionnaires with people or just hanging out with a non-Christian friend and having a conversation about spiritual things. But it is essential that we take our disciples with us and share our faith together.

Fellowship - It is important to be a friend to the people we’re discipling, so part of discipleship is developing that friendship. This can be inside or out of the set “discipleship time”, but a deepening friendship is important in developing an environment of vulnerability and growth.

Teaching - This element deals specifically with teaching someone Scripture: what it says, what it means, how it applies to him or her, etc. It can be teaching a passage that addresses a struggle or issue your disciple has or simply a lesson on Biblical history or
doctrine to help her gain a greater knowledge of the Word and how it applies to her life. Teaching someone Scripture helps develop heart, mind, vision, and character.

Training - This element deals with training someone how to minister to others. It could be training him how to lead a Bible study, how to disciple someone else, how to share the Gospel, etc. It is different from teaching in that teaching addresses your disciple’s personal development, while training addresses how he can minister to others.

Prayer - Of course, prayer is a vital part of discipleship. A discipler should pray regularly for his or her disciples, as well as pray with them. This is the most vital of all the elements, because it is the Lord who will cause our disciples to grow, not us, and we need to be praying for them and praying that God will use us as a vessel to help them grow.

A discipleship appointment can be a combination of all 5 of these elements, or just a few at a time. Sometimes it is good spend the whole appointment sharing your faith with others, or teaching on a critical issue in your disciple’s life, or even just hanging out and playing pool. Most appointments probably will have a mix of several elements.

But in order to have an effective, life-changing discipleship relationship, you need a healthy balance of all 5 elements coupled with a healthy dose of reliance on God. You need to be taking them out to share their faith, teaching them from the Word, training them how to minister to others, praying for them and with them, and just being a good friend.

One of the most important things to remember is that discipleship is much more than just a weekly appointment - it is demonstrating the Christian life to your disciple on a day-to-day basis. Most lessons you’ll teach to your disciples will be outside your regular appointments - they will learn from you through seeing Christ in you as you walk by faith. Jesus simply lived His life in front of the 12 disciples and modeled to them how to live. Most people learn best by observing and experiencing than by being directly taught. So, make discipleship more than just a weekly meeting in the Student Union - make it an exciting experience and a deep relationship!

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