Most discipleship programs get off on the wrong foot because they are just that….programs.
Am I completely against programs and ministries that facilitate discipleship efforts? No! Logistics on discipling hundreds (for some of you, thousands) of people is nuts! Without infrastructure set up for a church’s efforts to disciple their people, no one would grow.
My qualm with most efforts is when discipleship programs don’t have relationship at their core. I believe that a simple weekly Bible study, reading good books, and listening to your church’s podcast can have fruit….but not nearly as much as discipleship that revolves around community and relationship will. I drove around with a spiritual son of mine last night for a couple of hours, praying, talking about Jesus, and discussing Acts 12-13. Do you know what that was? Discipleship! Do you know why it was effective? Close relationship! Relationship is the best vehicle for growing in the Lord.
Discipleship that takes root and lasts doesn’t usually happen in a classroom or in a pew. It happens in living rooms, coffee shops, and road trips with those that we call brothers and fathers and sisters and mothers. How do I know this? Because many of you can’t tell me what your pastor preached this past Sunday, but I know probably everybody in my small group (hello, brothers and sisters) can tell me about our convo on renewing your mind from a few weeks ago. I’m beginning to understand that no matter how good I preach, sermons serve best as 1) Moments in time for life change and 2) A springboard for discussion in intentional settings for discipleship (small groups, bible studies, etc).
Jesus didn’t have a 12 step discipleship program. He had 12 men that he lived with. 12 men that he slept next to. 12 men that he walked with for 3 years through everything. When you see that community can be a place of accelerated growth is when you realize that all of life can become a class room.
The greatest form of discipleship that I’ve found is walking with a spiritual father, a man that has access to pretty much every area of your life. My father, Alan Brown, just by walking with him, has taught me much about faith, finance, fathering, prayer, and being a Godly man. The reason I’ve gleaned so much from him is not because I sat in a seminar or heard him preach. It’s because we’ve done life together in such a way that discipleship becomes a secondary consequence of relationship and sonship.
With that being said I have a few questions for you. Who are your brothers that you are growing alongside? Who is the father that is raising you up?
Would you agree with me this type of discipleship bears the most fruit and is the most effective in the long run? Let me know in the comments!