“Discipleship” is a word I heard a lot being around the church for most of my life. I know for myself, the word “discipleship” has grown in many ways as I have aged and matured in my faith. Simply put discipleship is helping others follow Jesus. But when I think of making disciples it’s not always that way. Helping others follow Jesus is not always simple. It can be messy, difficult, and sometimes slow. Sinful humans make stuff messy, but what I know about the work of discipleship is God created us to grow together with other Christians. Those who think about discipleship and say they are not gifted in this area can be encouraged that God has designed all Christians to follow him and help others follow him. "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Looking back at my life I can see men who have poured into me and in turn, I have been able to share that resource with others. Discipleship is not rocket science, it's a humble heart that lives to glorify God in everything we do, specifically by helping others follow Jesus. I am grateful for those men I have known that directed me to scripture, called out my sin, and have a deep love for Jesus. That is the greatest form of discipleship I have seen.
If discipleship isn’t easy and it takes work, how do we go about it? I've had to ask myself this question many times over the past couple years as I have matured. I want to grow in my faith and in my delight in Jesus. I also want to help others love Jesus more through his Word and the Church. That is how I look at discipleship as a 23 year old, recent college graduate. I don’t have a lot of wisdom but I do have God’s Word that leads me to deeper worship of God, a church body that encourages and builds me up into Christ, and time and energy to care for others well.
Those last two things I mentioned: Bible and church, will be the most important tools in helping you disciple. My life experience can be beneficial for those that I am discipling, but what will be most impactful is what scripture teaches us: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). That is why I start every discipleship relationship by reading a book of the Bible together. It grounds everything we do in scripture. It keeps my eyes, and the person I am meeting with, focused on Christ first. In discipleship, I want to be biblically based. I trust the Bible to do the work God has created it to do, “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (1 Timothy 3:16). God is good and gracious in many ways and one of those ways is through his word; that we as Christians can meet together and grow through the reading of it.
The church is often a component of discipleship which is easily forgotten, but it is essential to biblical discipleship. At Sovereign Hope we have made an intentional push to establish a strong discipleship culture through one-to-one bible reading, community groups, and other classes at church. This is good. This is needed. I am grateful for a church that wants to reach Missoula and the University of Montana with the treasure of Jesus. Pastor Garrett Kell says, “While we can have discipleship relationships anywhere, the most natural place for them to develop is in the community of the local church. In the church Christians are commanded to meet together regularly, spur each other on in Christ-likeness, and protect each other against sin.”
Some encouragement for everyone: discipleship can and will be done. It just takes the commitment to start. It is asking one person who has been on your mind, or who you’ve see at church, to meet and grow together into Christ. Becoming more like Christ is the desire. An article I read recently speaks about what I believe is essential when meeting with someone, “Regardless of the format, some of our discipleship should involve scheduled times of reading, praying, confessing, encouraging, and challenging each other to become more like Christ.”
I am grateful God designed the church in such a way that we grow together with other Christians. We learn to love God more through his word. Discipleship, again is helping others follow Jesus. I want to leave you with this: discipleship is more about being faithful than about results. Both are good but if you can only have one make sure it is being faithful. That is something I have learned through the last few years of college. I can’t always produce results in a brother’s life. But I can be faithful to study the Bible and preach the Gospel with them, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).