discipleship: a process, not a program

Discipleship is a wonderful word. It sounds good in church talk. It appears purposeful and biblical on the cover of curriculum and Christian books. One can throw around the word in a conversation and look quite spiritual. Discipleship is a wonderful word, but a difficult to do.

Paul spoke of his commitment to discipling believers as a labor, “We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me,” [Col.1:28-29].

Christ has called us to disciple [Mt.28:19-20]. Paul viewed the value in Christ’s command and was willing to labor until it was complete. If we truly want to be a disciple that is discipling disciples, we must consider the following:

Discipleship is not a program; it is a process. It is a lifetime commitment. It’s not a sleek, red sports car that burns rubber and gets you and one suitcase there in a hurry, but rather, it is a locomotive that slowly leaves the station, containing the strength to transport an unfathomable amount of cargo. Being committed to discipleship means that we cannot become impatient and bail when things aren’t moving at the pace we desire. Time is required to present each of your students as “mature in Christ.

Discipleship is a grueling workout. I do not like to run, but I know it is one of the best cardio workouts. I do not convey a good message if I promote running, but I’m obscenely obese. Exercise personal spiritual disciplines is involved in the process of discipleship. How can we possibly pass on what we do not possess? In order to pass on a deep love for Christ and the tools for building a relationship with Him, we must first possess them ourselves.

Discipleship is intimately acquainted with relationship. Day-to-day, life-on-life experience and instruction helps transform church into life skills. Real church happens in the context of loving and accountable relationships. To be left alone in your faith isolates true discipleship from happening.

There are no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” when it comes to the process of discipleship. Creating a program out of discipleship is the easy thing, but frankly not effective or biblical. Jesus must have thought the same things as many turned and walked away from His call to radical discipleship. If a student will test your love for them, they will also test your commitment to the process. When they see your love and understand your resolve, they are more likely to join the journey to spiritual maturity.

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