At Dwelling 1:14, the working definition of a disciple is “Someone who takes up the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus and shows others how to do the same.”
So when we start to talk about how to “disciple” someone, we are talking about the process by which such a person is formed (discipled).
In our previous two blogs on this subject we made the following points about what we have found to be important to include in that discipling process:
1) Start with the few and the ready. (Continue to teach the unconvinced crowds but get going with the few the Holy Spirit has already convinced to follow you.)
2) Senior leaders: look for the few and the ready who have the capacity to disciple others. (For the sake of the larger congregation, these need to be your priority as the senior leader. You can’t disciple everyone yourself. But you can disciple people who disciple everyone else. If you keep waiting, your congregation remains largely undiscipled.)
3) Start discipling a person where God is already working. (Ultimately God is already discipling the person. So where is He already messing with them? Just ask.)
4) Clear teaching is important. Like my friend says, “Words reveal worlds.” But don’t mistake hearing the words for putting them into practice. (Information is important but it is not all. It’s in the “putting into practice” that we advance the discipling process.)
So that brings us to today’s practical advice. What is the simple content of our discipling?
In other words, if I am bringing a person through a process by which they are formed (discipled) into someone who is taking up “the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus and showing others how to do the same,” what is the simple content of the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus? How can all that Jesus said and did be summed up? If we do this accurately, we will then see patterns continuously followed by the Spirit of Jesus in our lives and the lives of the ones we are discipling. If we do this accurately, we will see that which we have summarized played out by Jesus over and over again. It will be what Jesus is already doing and showing us. We will be less likely to lose the forest for the trees when it comes to following and responding to Jesus in the real world.
So how do we sum up the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus?
I like to point to the very first things Jesus tells us in the Gospels: 1) The redemptive Kingdom of God has arrived in your midst, believe the good news; and 2) Come follow Me as we together unleash the redemptive Kingdom in the tangible world. That’s what the Gospels are telling and showing us. Finally, Jesus is clear (and repetitive) about how this redemptive Kingdom will come and the will of the Father will be done here on earth, namely, through self-giving (sacrificial) love applied in redemptive ways. Jesus did not come to wield the love of power but to unleash the redemptive power of love. Therefore, anyone who would come after Him must do the same: deny ourselves and take up the self-giving (sacrificial) life of redemptive love.
So when I am taking up the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus, what will it look like? What patterns will be in play day after week after month after year?
Answer: Seeking the Kingdom wherever I go and looking for little (or large) ways to join Jesus in applying redemptive love to other human beings.
Therefore, when I am sitting with a small group of people, enjoying a glass of wine for the purpose of discipling them, the conversation most often revolves around what they are already seeing God doing around them in their daily lives (and, yes, that usually feels like God messing with them somehow; and, yes, it will usually involve another human being that needs redemptive love). The conversation then moves to how they can bring some measure of redemptive love to that human being’s situation.
It’s what disciples of Jesus do.
So, among those you know, who’s willing to have someone like you show them how to take up the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus? And when will you give them a call?
Rev. Greg Finke
Executive Director, Dwelling 1:14
281-844-7644Rev. Greg Finke