By Chris McRae, BCI Discipleship Team Leader
The church has often fallen for the temptation of trying to mass produce Christians. This has rightly drawn censure from those around us. Such a strategy has never, and will never result in the consistent reproduction of mature, effective and productive followers of Jesus Christ.
Discipleship can and does look like a lot of different things. There are any numbers of books, studies, and conferences to attend on how to go about maturing followers of Christ. These are indeed very helpful. In different ages of the church, across the multiplied cultures in which the good news has taken root, throughout differing epochs of history, the discipling of followers of Jesus has taken many different forms. There is no one-size-fits-all way of doing discipling. That discipleship takes place is the issue.
However, it is my belief that there is no substitute for a long-term transformational ministry of making disciples than for an intentional leader to set out with a reproducible pattern in a relational environment. This is a long, slow process. Jesus likened quick results to seed that fell on soil with an underlying layer of hard rock. The plant sprouted quickly but wasn’t able to nourish itself because it hadn’t put down good roots. It ended up wilting under the hot sun.
I personally am committed to working in ministry, not for flash-in-the-pan results, but rather, in working diligently for “fruit that remains.” Carrying the metaphor forward, it is my desire to invest in a field of good soil. I believe this is best done in one-on-one ministry. For the church to have the impact in society and on culture, intentional leaders must engage in the process of making disciples.
Practically speaking this entails commitment to and follow-through on four guiding principles:
A Biblical Maturity – Personal Growth in the Transformational Principle of developing the Vision, Actions, Character, and Skill of a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
A Discipleship Ministry – Becoming an Intentional Leader of others by Identifying, Engaging and Training them to become Disciple Makers.
A Personal Involvement – Engaging in a Relational Environment to pass along the heart and life of a follower of Jesus Christ to the person you are discipling.
A Practical Process– Practicing a Reproducible Pattern of making replicating disciples.
In the following weeks we will take a look at these in greater detail.
The content of what a disciple needs to learn is important. Though it is not everything, nor perhaps is it the most important thing, without content it cannot be said that discipleship is taking place at all. Discipleship is not some mystical practice of ethereal exercises. The root idea behind the term is discipline. Discipline by its nature involves time, commitment, teaching, demonstration, training, encouragement, oversight correcting, and reproducing. This happens as the followers of Christ live out their own story of spiritual growth in an open and honest way.