Discipleship, especially when you are wanting to make true disciple makers, is a process that can seem long and difficult. We often look for shortcuts.
Have you ever found yourself trying to go somewhere fast and then decided to take a shortcut? You see this little lane and you are pretty sure it will cut through to the main road? “I’ll go for it,” you think. It seems like a good idea that will save you time and get you there faster.
As you are driving along on your motorbike or in your car, suddenly, the road narrows and there is a huge truck parked in the road. You can’t get by because the road is too narrow. That has happened to me more than once. Another time, I came up the road and suddenly found a big pile of rocks dumped in the road for the construction of a nearby building. Then there were the times I took a shorter road but hit an avalanche. When this happens, you back up, turn around, and by the time you get back to where you started from, you are frustrated, annoyed and it is 15 minutes later but you are still at the same place.
This reminds me of when we try to make disciples using only a weekly meeting with them. It looks like a shortcut, but it’s not.
Discipleship Is Not A Meeting- It Is Doing Life Together
Discipleship doesn’t happen only in a weekly meeting. It is an intense investment of our lives into others. This is a whole lot more than what happens in a weekly gathering where you “preach” to them, or even do a Discovery Bible study or tell a Bible Story.
Discipleship happens when we do life together. It’s when we become a community of Jesus followers who challenge, encourage, support and commit to helping one another grow in following Jesus. Our lives “rub off” on others and they “catch” from us a passion for the lost, a faith in the God of the Impossible, a love for God’s Word, etc.
I’m always interested in strategies and structures. I’m fascinated to learn about what different people are using for their short and long-term discipleship. Having a good system can facilitate a lot of things being released. Sometimes, though, we look for the “perfect” system and think that is what will turn things around for us in our efforts to multiply disciples.
Discipleship Is Not A Structure Or System
The last few years I have been doing a lot of training in T4T (Training for Trainers). The T4T meeting structure includes all the important elements that are so vital to multiplying disciples; celebration/accountability, member care, worship, the Word, goal setting, fellowship. It’s a proven structure that has produced great fruit around the world.
The same could be said for DBS (Discovery Bible Study) groups- another great system to use.
As much as I like these systems, I must say that both T4T and DBS are just structures and systems. They will not produce fruit unless coupled with a deep commitment to relational discipleship. We must “go deep” with those in that T4T or DBS circle.
We must get into their lives and let them into ours.
That is what Jesus did with his disciples. They lived together, spent hours around the fire cooking fish and eating together. They did ministry together, and Jesus spoke into their lives not only as a group, but one on one.
We can’t do that with everyone. We need to choose a few key people, those who are faithful, fruitful and focused.
I know you are busy. You might be thinking, I just don’t have time to give more than I already am.
Here’s is what you need to do.
This doesn’t take a ton of time, but it will get you started in going beyond trying to just disciple people in a meeting.
- Choose 2 key people you are training who you will invest in more.
- Think of one simple way to let them into your life in a deeper way. (For example, have coffee and share a time of failure you had and how you overcame it).
- Think of one simple way you can get more involved in theirs. (For example, show interest in one of their hobbies or children).
- Do those two things this week.
And don’t stop having those T4T or DBS meetings. They are important too.
They just aren’t the full picture of what it means to make disciples who will make disciples.
Revision of blog originally posted on October 24, 2016, at ywamfrontiermissions.com