Relational Discipleship

BE INVOLVED IN AN INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP JOURNEY

“Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus gave us this command, this expectation as one of His last mandates for us, His church. What does that mean; what is His expectation of us? The early church grew because people shared the Gospel with other people. Because the Gospel was shared and people came to Christ, these new followers (the church) had to be taught the meaning of being a follower of Jesus. In Acts 2 we learn that over 3,000 people were saved, which must have raised the question, “What do we do with these people?”

In the early days of the church, they spent time over meals, at the synagogue, in homes and “as they went” through their daily lives, teaching these new believers from the Pentateuch, from the prophets, from Jesus’ teachings and from the real life experiences of the apostles.

We have the same calling today. As new believers come to know Jesus as their Savior, we are called to teach them how to follow Jesus. It is our opportunity to help them understand the Scripture, to learn how to pray, how to fellowship with other believers, how to tell the lost how they can receive Jesus as Savior and how to make Jesus the center point of their new life in Christ.

Make Jesus THE Priority – Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “if anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Jesus also said in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be provided.” A true disciple puts Jesus as their first priority.

Make Understanding the Scripture a Daily Practice – The greatest need for any new believer is to begin learning about who God is and what it means to follow Jesus. We primarily learn that from reading the Bible. There are many reading plans to help someone as they journey through the rich pages of Scripture. One plan says to begin by reading one chapter every day in the Gospel of John. Read five chapters in Psalms and one chapter in Proverbs each day (read the Proverbs chapter that relates to the day of the month). There are chronological Bibles that take the reader through the entire Bible in a year. Online reading plans exist as well as mobile devise applications to help you read God’s Word daily. That is the key: whatever plan you choose, spend time with God daily to get to know Him and to hear from Him.

A second discipline that relates to God’s Word is the value that the disciple gains when His Word is put to memory. Psalm 119:11 tells us that “I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.” Putting God’s Word to memory places its spiritual power at your fingertips.

Spend Time with God in Prayer – A person can only sustain a healthy relationship with another person by talking with them. Marriages fail, parent-child relationships diminish and friendships fade when people stop talking. This is also true in our relationship with our Savior and Friend, Jesus. We must spend time talking with Him. How often or when you might ask? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray constantly.” Another translation says, “Pray without ceasing.” I think you get the point, that our daily life, as we are going, should be a life where we are constantly talking to our best Friend, our God and Savior. We should be talking with Him about tough decisions. We should be talking to Him first when great things happen in our lives. We should be talking to Him as we would our best friend. How do you do this? Get a notebook or journal or just a piece of paper and begin to write down prayers with the date. This will help you focus your prayers on God. Then later add the date and how you believe God responded to your prayer. Keep this journal or notebook and add to it as the Lord puts a need or praise on your heart.

Build Healthy Relationships with People – One of the two commands that Jesus gave us in the “Great Commandment” is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). It should be the trademark of Christians that we have healthy, functional, loving relationships with the people in our lives. Jesus taught us, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:11-14 NASB) This one area could be the primary measuring rod of a disciple’s life. Love one another! How do you do this? A great place to start is to pray about any broken relationships that you might have with people in your life and begin to pray for that person by name. Pray that God would give you the ability to love this person and to forgive them if that is necessary. Pray about people that God might want you to call or to send an email to, so that you can be an encouragement to them.

Go Tell Others – Another result of someone who has been transformed in their life is to tell other people about how they have been changed. It is no accident that someone who is newly converted to Christ is joyously telling others about their new found faith in Christ. They can’t wait to tell a friend about their sins being forgiven and that they are now confident they are going to heaven when they die. This is as it should be in the life of a disciple. We should be joyously telling people around us that we have been forgiven of our sins and that our life has been changed. How can we do this? First, start a daily prayer list of people that, as far as you know, do not know Jesus as their Savior. Second, start to develop your relationship with them. Sincerely get to know them and what is going on in their life. Third, pray for an opportunity to talk to them about spiritual things and ultimately talk to them about their relationship with Jesus. Fourth, share your story with them about how you came to know Jesus as your Savior. Being a disciple of Jesus is a challenge. It is a great and high calling. Following Jesus is demanding. Remember that being a disciple of Jesus is putting Him first, praying without ceasing, being in God’s Word daily, building relationships with people and telling people about how Jesus changed your life. This kind of disciple will encounter spiritual warfare. But do not be discouraged. Continue on and remember that we are only in this life for a brief time and the main reason we are here is to help others discover the life-changing relationship with Jesus that you have now discovered and that you are living.

Be a Reproducing Disciple – The ultimate outcome of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, is when you reproduce yourself as a follower of Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:2 teaches us “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” True discipleship takes place when we help someone else on their spiritual journey of following Jesus. True discipleship reproduces itself. Pray for someone that you can spend time with in a spiritual walk of becoming like Jesus.

Resources

  • Call to Joy – Billy Hanks
  • Real Life Discipleship – Jim Putman
  • Masterlife – Avery Willis
  • A Guidebook to Discipleship – Doug Hartman & Doug Southerland
  • The Complete Disciple – Paul Powell
  • Disciples are Made Not Born – Walter Henrichsen
  • The Lost Art of Disciple Making – LeRoy Eims
  • The Disicple-Making Church – Bill Hull
  • Transformational Discipleship – Barry Sneed & Roy Edgemon