Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Discipleship

The Christian bookplace is beset with 'how to...' books, though interestingly I don't think that there are many on discipleship and the principles and practice of discipling others.  And yet the Bible has lots of models of discipleship: Elijah with Elisha, Jesus and Disciples, Paul with Timothy and Titus. There are a few things that flavour my thinking and any training I do with people on discipleship, here are some of the big ones:

1. I think key to helping people disciple others is examining how they have been discipled and what was good about it or bad about it. We are all discipled by others we just don’t realise it, or think of it in those terms. For example if you were brought up in a Christian home you were being discipled by your parents or parent – what was that like? What was great about it? What was assumed? What was not so great? Those who are influential in us deciding to follow Jesus are also key to our discipleship.  Our church leaders set us models of discipleship, our friends and so on. Often this leads us to have a set of assumptions about what discipleship looks like; some are good some are bad but all need calling out for what they are and examining in the light of what the bible says discipleship is and should be.

2. Biblical patterns: I think its helpful to explore the biblical patterns of discipleship and think about why they are as they are. For example older men train younger men, older women younger women. Why is this given as a command? What is prohibited? What is being commanded? Why practically is God giving us these instructions? How ought that to influence our discipleship?  Or Jesus relationship with the disciples: what did this look like day to day?  How does observation and question and answer play a part in this?  How are mistakes used?  How are praise, teaching, rebuke, training, and facilitating seen here?  What is Jesus ultimate aim for his disciples and why?  How does that practically influence their relationship?

3. Discipleship is sharing more than just the Bible  ThessaloniansPaul makes much as he writes to the Thessalonians in chapter 1 and 2 of how he and the team lived among them – and we see him talking about discipling in terms of Mother and father relationships.  We also see the goal of his discipleship. Its helpful to use this passage to explore the goals of discipleship. What is it I am seeking to achieve and why? What am I modelling? How accountably open will I be and will they be? How can we facilitate this? Given where they are where do we need to start (gospel outline, bible overview, learning about biblical leadership?)?

4. Time – discipleship only happens in the context of relationship, therefore key is spending time together doing things will build relationship. I think in general that looks different for lads and girls. Mission and ministry can accelerate this process but it can also retard it in significant ways taking certain things off the agenda.


5. Discipleship is pastoral care. Expect the unexpected and have a biblical focus to your relationship. I this area I think Crosstalk (see my amazon store to the right)is a brilliant resources at thinking about how we use the bible pastorally in discipleship.

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