Is discipleship taking someone through a curriculum or is it just hanging out with them informally? I think both can be true. Some of the people I have discipled have asked me to specifically go through something structured with them. Others have just wanted to spend time with me and talk about things as we’re together. Sometimes I do both with them, alternating between something structured and spending time just talking or doing something fun together.
For new believers, it’s important to take them through something structured in order to ground them in their faith and show them where to go in God’s Word when they struggle with things. For growing believers, I often let the conversation direct me as to how to best spend time with them and help them grow and develop. (You can check out some of the specific things I go through with them on my Free Resources page.
Be intentional with those you disciple and be practical with how you spend time with them. Here are four components that are important for practical discipleship to take place.
This is an obvious one. How can you disciple someone if you don’t talk? I will often ask them questions to get a feel for how they are doing and how I can encourage them. How can I be praying for you this week? I’ve been praying about ________. How’s it going? Any new developments? I’d love to share with you what God is teaching me this week in my times in His Word. How is your time with the Lord this week? What is He teaching you?
Everyone wants to be heard. When someone listens to us, we feel loved and valued. It’s encouraging to others when we give them our undistracted attention and make eye contact. It’s important that we don’t interrupt and take over the conversation until they’ve finished or are ready for our input. Sometimes, I will jot down notes while they’re talking to remind me of things to ask them later for clarification.
Be a role model to those you are discipling. Walk the talk! If you want them to love others, you need to be loving others. The same with integrity, vulnerability, humility, acceptance. Am I living my life in such a way that I would want others to follow my lifestyle and responses?
Do things together. Someone once told me, “Don’t do things alone that you can do with someone else.” For instance, exercise together, have a meal together, run errands together, go shopping together, ride to an event or meeting together. Time together naturally deepens relationships and allows natural conversations to take place.
Discipleship looks different with each person I disciple, but there is one constant – the goal. I want to spur them on to be more like Christ and grow deeper in their walk with Him. I want to help them be all that God designed them to be.
Discipleship doesn’t have to be a rigid “program” but can be practical and intentional as we walk through life together.
What are your thoughts about discipleship? What does it look like for you?