When we say the word “discipleship,” we all might have something different in mind. We all have our idea on what disciple is and what it should look like. Before I dive into my definition I would like to discuss what I believe discipleship is not. When I say it is not these things, I mean that it is not these things:
A Bible study group or Sunday school class. These programs could be considered part of discipleship, but they can no way be the entire discipleship process for a person. We cannot be formed simply in a classroom. Each person is different. Some are spoon feeders and others meat eaters. There is no form fit discipleship for everyone.
A follow-up class for “new believers.” A 12-week class for newbie’s or an 4-week Jump Start course of Christianity doesn’t create disciples. Many discipleship programs stop at class. If we are to foolish to think that we can farm people through a class and be spiritually mature we are filling our churches with people who have a false sense of what Christianity is about. Faith is lives out in a family. Discipleship is a community process.
A programmed ministry of the church. Discipleship takes place within a community of believers who are living out their faith. Discipleship is not the job of a formal ministry of a local church. If I have a friend who begins their journey with Christ, and I say to that friend, “Now just attend this discipleship ministry and you will be peachy.” I am not helping my friend in their spiritual journey.
A cookie cutter approach to living the Christian life. Discipleship is not a do-this-do-that-and-you-will-be-the-perfect-Christian kind of package. It is highly specialized. God works with different people in different ways. He molds us through different processes. We become his followers through different experiences.
When we consider the process of discipleship we must rethink what discipleship is in the church in order to properly help people in their spiritual formation.