Simply put, discipleship is the state of being a learner who follows their master teacher. Just as Jesus’s disciples followed and learned from His example, we mirror that daily by selecting mentors and guides. As seen in the following passage, the goal of discipleship is imitation, but how do we recreate that through ministry?
“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”
Discipleship vs. Mentoring
You might be wondering what the difference is between discipleship and mentoring. It’s true that they have a lot of similarities, but the purpose behind each one differs. Discipleship, meaning the culture of following Jesus, helps people find their way to God and live their lives as Christians. It involves sharing the gospel with others and living a holy life.
Mentoring, on the other hand, is designed to help people through a particularly difficult decision they must make or through a hard time in their life. A mentor will provide you with one-on-one conversation and offer you advice, tips, or instructions. Just as Jesus waited until His disciples were alone to guide them in private, mentors offer specific help to those who need it.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Create a Discipleship Plan
In biblical terms, being a disciple means making more disciples. Churches invest in mission trips and outreach programs to encourage more people to begin their journey of discipleship too. But typically, this journey isn’t as easy as finding God and choosing to start following the Word of Jesus.
Becoming a disciple takes time, commitment, courage, and guidance. Having a community to direct you toward the right path profoundly impacts the kind of Christian you become. So, make sure your church is actively seeking to share the Word of Jesus by welcoming new people every step of the way.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Large Group Gatherings
Showing up to large group gatherings is an essential part of being a disciple. Beyond the safety net of your church’s Sunday congregation, do you reach out to others who might need it? When Jesus commanded the disciples to spread the word of His glory, He did not mean to each other!
Hosting events at your church is a great way to encourage newbies through the door. From fundraisers and kids' summer parties to community meals and yard sales, there are countless events you can plan that expand your reach. Make sure you follow these tips to keep them coming back, as a one-time appearance isn’t really a success.
2 Corinthians 2:14:
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”
Small Team Sessions
It is vital to connect with the people of your church in a deep and meaningful way when creating a discipleship culture. Small groups offer a chance for discussion, in which congregants can share details of their lives and support each other.
The Transformational Church Research Project demonstrated that people who are a part of a group serve more, give more, and stick more than those who stay on the peripheries. To be a successful disciple, bring people in, make them a part of your community, and keep the cycle moving.
2 Timothy 2:2:
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrusted to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Growth and Development
One essential element of discipleship is its cyclical nature. A person who was once brought into the church without knowing what to expect could become a ministry leader one day. Be a church that offers training resources and opportunities to everyone. Create a dynamic environment of learning and moving up. Remind your church members of the projects they can get involved in and the different ways they can serve.
Appealing volunteer programs will attract regular and consistent workers to your church. Take care of your eager helpers by offering volunteer positions that are interesting and relevant to their skills too. But don’t stop there: cultivate a volunteer system with tiered roles so that when workers improve their skills and demonstrate their loyalty, they can move up, and new volunteers can move into their previous roles.
What is discipleship? It is the act of encouraging others to live according to Jesus while following Him yourself. Bible verses about discipleship show us that it is a constant action. It involves going out into the world daily to spread the Word and reach those who need a helping hand on their way to God.
Though the word disciple has become synonymous with Christian in recent years, the truth is far more complex. Simply living a godly life is not enough. We must go out into the world every day (rain or shine) and lead others the way Jesus leads us.