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Discipleship

8 December, 2003 7:34 AM


'The word �disciple� occurs 269 times in the New Testament. �Christian� is found only three times and was first introduced to refer precisely to the disciples.... The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ....

For at least several decades the churches of the Western world have not made discipleship a condition of being a Christian. One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, and one may remain a Christian without any sign of progress toward or in discipleship....So far as the visible Christian institutions of our day are concerned, discipleship clearly is optional.'

Dallas WillardThe Spirit of the Disciplines

Do Willard's words ring true for you in your church context? How do have you seen churches effectively disciple people? If you were asked to disciple a new believer how would you approach it?

Comments

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This is something I myself am getting intrested in... I think if I were asked, it would start with creating a relationship, but letting the new believer know that one of the goals of our relationship would be for him to learn about Christ and what it means to be truly be following Jesus. Something along those lines, maybe not so "cliche" sounding... I believe dicipleship is on my heart so I'll have to check this stuff out. Thanks.

TravisM » 8 December, 2003 10:20 AM

In most churches this is the ONE BIG THING missing - discipleship and mentoring. Often you're added to the fold, then left to find your own way, or thrown into a programme that completely wears you out, with no prior training, just because you're the enthusiastic new guy. Gentle leading, discipling and mentoring would be so much better! It's something I have yet to experience, and wish I could.

Michelle » 8 December, 2003 7:10 PM

My first piece of advice would be to stay as far away from church as possible. Secondly, I would want to teach them to imitate Christ and absorb his teachings and how He lived His life. Not Paul or any of the other apostles, but Christ. Thirdly, I would help them to understand Covenant as this really is the pivotal concept to Christianity that most Christians haven't got a clue about.

regan » 8 December, 2003 8:53 PM

WOW! Regan...that was a gutsy comment. I didn't think anyone except myself could be so bold. Hey! I happen to agree with you Regan. Go figure.

The original disciples were under the direct instruction of Jesus Himself. Even Paul admits to being discipled by Jesus personally for a few years in the deserts of Arabia. How could that be? Jesus had died and returned to His Father...hadn't he? Sorry! I'm being a bit sarcastic.

The church today acts as if Jesus is dead. Yet Jesus told His disciples that he would not leave them without a comforter. Wait in Jerusalem said He. I will send someone to take my place. He will disciple, mentor, lead and guide you to the truth. Jesus is not dead, He simply returned to us in Spirit form. That Spirit still teaches disciples today.

If we disciple others, what we will pass along to them may not be what Jesus' Spirit would want to be passed along to them. Why is that? Because what many of us are taught comes from the church and we all know how much error there is in the church.

If that is not the opinion of many believers today...why is there such a thing as the emerging church after all these years of the usual church teachings? Evidently, the Emerging Church believes they can do it better.

I would remind everyone about what Jesus had to say to Peter here:

Lk:22:32: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

"Converted!" Did Peter yet lack conversion at that time? If he did...when did that conversion take place? IMHO it took place on the Day of Pentecost, in the upper room. He was converted by the power of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Read it for yourself in the book of Acts. It was then that Peter's faith was strong enough to strengthen his brethren and strengthen he did. His preaching that day saw thousands of souls saved and added to The Lord's church. Do not be deceived. The church that we know today is not that church.

Clarence » 8 December, 2003 10:27 PM

this is something i'm really interested in too... it DOES seem to be lacking in most churches (including mine). i read willard's book and absolutely loved it. gave a lot of insights that were valuable and helpful to me. a return to many of the spiritual disicplines would perhaps be a starting point.

i laso agree with regan that it needs to happen away from church (although being connected to a church is not necessarily "evil";-))

lucas » 9 December, 2003 4:17 AM

In the context of Hebrew 10:25, it is important to meet together and encourage each other in the faith. I don't necesarily see this as an attribute of 'church'. This speaks more of discipleship where as 'church' usually pertains to worship. Christ's example of how to live provides more demonstration of discipleship than of worship and while worship does not necesarily equal discipleship, discipleship certainly is a form of worship.

regan » 9 December, 2003 4:40 AM

I just recently finished _Spirit of the Disciplines_ and found it a fascinating read. My thought do not follow with a couple of the past comments of "staying away from the church". It is my belief that we need more people IN the church to be reading this type of material AND acting upon it. Too many modern day churches are too busy accomodating and making everyone feel "comfy" that there is no fire or passiion within the walls. I would offer that this material would help bring back some of the challenge to being and growing as a Christian. As Willard stated in the beginnig of _The Divinge Conspiracy_, we are flying upside down in the world and don't even know it".

Eric » 10 December, 2003 8:27 AM

Our church has been spending a lot of time thinking about how to "do" discipleship without turning it into a program. Eugene Peterson also talks about how the primary purpose of the church should be discipleship. I find that people are very hesitant to enter into the types of relationships that are needed to mentor and disciple someone, or they feel that they themselves aren't holy enough to do it, when it's really just a matter of being willing to share yourself and your experience in faith with another person.

Karen Haluza » 13 December, 2003 4:29 AM

i'd say an earthy definition of a disciple is a person who takes on the character and life patterns of a person playing the role of the example. i can agree with the idea of staying away from church if by that you mean staying away from an institutionalized imitation of what the Body is supposed to be. however, it is not really possible for a disciple to grow without brushing up against the Body of Christ at some point or another. i can understand the heart of the comment.
i used to groan about there not being many disciplers in the Body until one day the Lord spoke to my heart, "Become that one." the family i serve now strives to cultivate deep, strong relationships in a variety of forms. accountability groups are one way. guys get with guys, gals with gals and talk honest shop. we shepherd types also look for those connections God is building and pay special attention to the ones that he seems to navigate supernaturally into a deeper relationship. then, shocker, we spend time together. we eat, we drink, we pray, we play, we look to taste Jesus wherever we go.

justin » 24 December, 2003 7:50 AM

Hey
So like I'm walking and learning as I go...
I'm sharing, praying, teaching and preaching. I'm also inviting others into my experience and journey with Christ and as I do this I have found that those that will follow this journey of knowing Jesus soon find that he becomes everything to them.
The biggest lesson I've learnt is to not teach or preach anything that the Father is not doing in the disciples life. This means that if they are not being totally open and honest with me, I cannot know what the Father is saying tot them, They detach themselves from the opportunities that the Father opens for them.
I call this contextualized discipleship. Context - in that I must know what they are experienceing and going through emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually, then and only then can I truely speak into it with the love and truth that Christ has spoken into my heart.
Its been an interesting journey so far...I'm learning and thought I'd simply share where I'm at in this wonderful life.
Blessings...

Casey D » 30 December, 2003 2:19 PM

No one discipled me. My discipleship came from watching TBN (a terrifying thought) in my teen years, and then in uni I had friends and professors who guided me away from the heresies I had formed.

Discipleship is based in relationship. You can't separate the two. And unfortunately, a lot of people are hesitant to invest in relationships, {sic} discipleship.

jenn » 9 January, 2004 1:21 PM

I too struggled in my first years since the friend who shared Christ with me was unable to develop a healthy disciple/discipler relationship with me.
As I have grown, I am seeing the necessity to develop healthy, intimate relationships with those that God has placed in my life in order to curb the "orphan/bastard" scenario that is plaguing the Body of Christ.
We are discussing the same things at http://mhdallas.blogspot.com I think there is enough in the Discipleship question to last a lifetime of discussion.

{justin} » 22 January, 2004 7:05 AM

Thanks for posting this

Tiffany » 11 April, 2004 7:59 AM

rsvp email if you want to be a disciple.
dulos77@yah
I am a disciple, Yeshua leads me - He IS ALIVE!

(ALL IN LINE WITH G-D'S WORD - AND ONLY SO)

clarence: Paul was taught personally by Yeshua, years after the resurrection. Read the Bible. No sarcasm necessary, reality is strong enough.

» 8 March, 2005 11:31 PM

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