“I just finished my Discipleship Training School,” we may say. Or perhaps, “I was just awarded my Master of Divinity degree.” We post pictures on Facebook or Instagram of our graduation ceremonies, put the certificate on the wall, and pat ourselves on the back for our achievements. And well we should! These are programs we have put a lot of hard work into and completed. The problem is, this affects the way we think about making disciples.
Training disciples is a process, not a program, or an event. As we look at the Gospels we never see Jesus handing out certificates to his twelve and saying, “Okay, now you’ve arrived.” Instead, he called them to follow Him. He invited them into a way of life with Him. It was one of ongoing training, mentoring, and deep relationship.
Our training in the church (and para-church) has become so programmatic. We run discipleship training schools, classes, and courses. This can easily create within us an unhelpful mindset where we see discipleship as an event to complete, rather than a relationship of life-on-life mentoring.