Years ago, the Lord convicted me of the need to develop authentic community and get back to discipleship models. So, we planted a church- The Bridge, which focused on developing small groups and creating an environment for discipling. Through this process I’ve come to a few conclusions. I’d like to share those conclusions with you in this blog.
Discipleship, in the Bible, looked like Jesus’ invitation— which resulted in a total commitment to following Him. Together the disciples learned, were challenged, encouraged, corrected- not only by instruction and communication but also through example.
Discipling in today’s culture looks a little different. We still teach, challenge, learn, encourage, and correct (this is not an exhaustive list) with others, but we do it intermittently. Let me explain; we have intentional meeting times, weekly or biweekly times that are created to foster this idea. Nobody follows a leader 24/7. And, we aren’t Jesus, either. But, when we meet with others for discipleship, we need to learn how to evaluate the process.
Sometimes, I find myself wanting more change, growth, and commitment for the individual than they themselves want. This can easily grow into a feeling of frustration. Or, we’ll hear others talk of wanting change in their life and wanting to follow Jesus’ instructions but with no effort or tangible commitment to the process. This is also problematic and our efforts become ineffective.
I often hold onto these individuals too long. I don’t like ceasing the discipleship process. But, it needs to happen to allow new opportunities to be presented. Ceasing the process isn’t abandoning a person, it is just admitting that maybe they aren’t ready at this point in their life to be discipled. I always like to make myself available whenever someone changes their mind and wants to embark on a discipleship journey.
Just like how you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink, you cannot, as obvious as it sounds, force someone to learn. No matter how much time or intentionality you spend with that person, it won’t be well-received (I experienced this when I was in high school). You cannot force someone into willful action. Meaning, you cannot force someone to live a certain way. It has to come from within. There has to be a willingness.
We don’t always know the results of our efforts. But we do know that regeneration is done by the work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). We cannot do anything other than encourage, speak the truth, assess, and evaluate our efforts. We are called to share the gospel, make disciples, and lead by example.
Discipleship is hard work. It can be emotionally and spiritually draining. You invest in others and sometimes are taken advantage of, devalued, placated, or lied to. And we keep trying. But discipleship is what we’ve all been called to do. We are to be faithful to our Lord. We are to evaluate efforts and reach others. The Bible never instructs us to only do something if we feel like it, or have good experiences. It always instructs us to persevere.
There are many in the church today that want a gospel of grace and no responsibility. So we shouldn’t be surprised that we’ll encounter all types when trying to disciple. Be encouraged. You're fighting the good fight! Stay strong. Trust in the Lord. Persevere.
From time to time, Rev D posts random thoughts about life as a Pastor and Servant of Christ. He has a unique perspective. Blog entries are posted randomly.