This is the third of three articles in the disciplemaker series
The in this series covers in depth that disciplemakers are disciples of Christ who walk consistently with Jesus and desire to be used by Him in the lives of others. Further, they seek God’s approval, not the approval of others. The inspired us to share the gospel with people, gently explaining both the love of God and the forgiveness found in Jesus Christ.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8, Paul continues this list of characteristics of disciplemakers:
“We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
So the Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, said, “We care for you … we loved you so much … we shared our lives with you …”
As disciplemakers, we aim to give the people we disciple the gospel and ourselves, basic Christian foundational teachings, and loving care.
Discipleship Can Have Two Pitfalls
- It can be overly academic. The time together is driven by curriculum to get through, verses to memorize, training and heavy loads of scripture to read. This was me as a new discipler. My first few years as a young missionary, I felt compelled to have the women I discipled be highly trained in Bible knowledge, witnessing, facts and scripture memorization. Part of this was my type-A personality and part was the organization’s expectations, as well. While these disciples may be highly trained, they will not feel truly cared for or known on a deeper level.
2. It can be overly relational. The time together is driven by sharing of lives, venting about problems, complaining about situations, rehashing issues, getting “caught up,” and perhaps, prayer. I have labeled this type of discipleship “coffee & vent.” While these disciples may feel deeply cared for, they will not have learned much from scripture to apply to their life, nor will they have learned anything to pass on to a future disciple.
What Paul describes in the verses above is that discipleship should be a blend of both. The time spent together should be scriptural and relational. When we are intentional in our discipleship planning as disciplemakers, the people we are investing in will feel cared for. Their lives will change for Christ over time, and further, they will learn something to pass along to another.
Here is a simple format I follow for my discipleship times, which usually last an hour and a half. It also shows the blend of relational and scriptural elements.
Four Elements of Discipleship Time
This is a relational time to ask about your disciple’s life, hobbies, interests, etc. “You mentioned last week you had applied for a new position in your company, how did that go?”
Each person shares an area they would like to grow in. “You mentioned last week you were struggling to spend time with God each day. How did it go this week? I prayed for you in this.”
This is the longest portion of a discipleship appointment. Open the Bible together and read it, learn from it, discuss it, and apply what you read to your lives. “Today we are studying Psalm 23. I have some study notes and extra info about this passage to read together. I look forward to seeing how this passage can apply to our lives today.”
Pray for any issues brought up in small talk and accountability and always for people to come to know Christ. “Let’s close our time in prayer. I want us to make sure to pray for your new role in your company and that God would cross your path with others who need to know Christ personally.”
Keeping these four elements as a regular part in your discipleship time will ensure the appointment does not fall into one of the above pitfalls.
Discipleship is a special journey where God works in both the discipler and the disciple for His Glory. I encourage you to continue to be a disciplemaker for His Kingdom!
Lori Joiner is an author, speaker and discipleship coach in Katy, Texas. To invite her to speak at your next event and to browse her full list of Bible studies and resources visit LoriJoinerMinistries.org. You can also find her podcast, Your Discipleship Coach, on Apple podcast and Spotify.