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3 Principles of Discipleship

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  Three Principles of Discipleship Matthew 28 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 1 !o thereore and make disciples o all the nations, bapti#ing them in the name o the $ather and o the %on and o the &oly %pirit, 2' teaching them to observe all things that ( have commanded you) and lo, ( am with you always, even to the end o the age. Amen.*e know this as the +!reat ommission-. his is also the greatest ailure in the church. *ithout discipleship, believers do not understand how to live their aith. (t is common to see the great evangelistic eort, but where is discipleship/ A disciple is more than a convert and our call goes ar  beyond baptism. ( was not discipled and ( struggled to make sense o it all. ( ell ar away rom !od and no one reached out or even seemed to care. ( didn-t know how to pray. ( had no concept that !od could use me much less did ( think that there was a plan or my lie. ( did not know that eelings would not be my guide. *hen the eeling aded, ( thought !od had re0ected me. ( tried to pursue emotions, instead o a relationship with !od. *hy did problems come/ *hy didn-t !od protect me/ *hen ( asked !od to bless my selocused desires, why didn-t &e honor my prayer/ *hy don-t ( know !od-s will or my lie/( could write pages on the common uestions that almost all new hristians ask. 3nortunately, the church has let its members to igure these out on their own. 4ecause o this, many give up on hristianity, become calloused and complacent, or get swept away by those who teach error. (n most churches, people make a proession o aith) they are congratulated, put on a role and orgotten. he church that seemed so loving and welcoming when ( was a prospect, now has let me isolated in the middle o the crowd. 5iscipleship is not seeking converts, but bringing people into an intimate relationship with !od. his begins with a conversion or surrendering ourselves to Jesus hrist. 4ut thisis only the beginning. Jesus is the author and inisher o our aith. %urrender is where Jesus +authors- our aith, discipleship points people to the inish line and teaches them how to run the race according to!od-s purposes. (n &is purposes we ind 0oy and ulillment. here are three principles in discipleship  6 Relationships, Teaching, and Mentorship for Service . 1. Relationship 7 these three, the relationship is the most critical today. his is not because it is the most important,  but it is the most neglected. $or this reason, this message will put a lot o ocus on this point. Most  people are intimidated by discipleship. he word +discipleship- has been elevated to a practice or the spiritually mature. eople usually think o the +imothy rinciple- where an elder hristian takes an immature hristian under his wing and makes him into a ellow minister. Although mentoring is one aspect o discipleship, that is not the only aspect o discipleship. Friendship. 5iscipleship 9 riendship with a hrist centered ocus. *e are all called to be disciplers. *e are not called to become spiritual giants and then become disciplers. Anyone can be a riend. he problem withmost people is that they eel insecure when it comes to reaching out. hat is a law in our human nature. :veryone sits in the crowd and e;pects someone else to reach out to them. *hen no one reachesout, they eel lonely and isolated. he person beside them eels e;actly the same way. hough people with introverted personalities struggle more with this, even charismatic people have this problem. heycan be un loving and handshaking, but still never get beyond the surace o a smile. *e can easily be surrounded by smiling aces and touched by no one. <ou can touch someone-s hand with a warm handshake but that does not ever get beyond the surace and into the need.  A good illustration o this was a couple in a church ( once attended. here was a couple that was so loving, kind, and energetic. ( considered them to be one o the nucleus members o the church. hey attended home 4ible studies and knew all the members. *hat seemed sudden to us was actually a slow growing problem with them. hey uit coming and we soon ound out they were visiting other churches. hat is not uncommon, but the reason has always stuck with me. %he said that the reason they were leaving was because she elt lonely. %he didn-t know anyone, didn-t have any riends and eltalone. *ow= &ow could one o the lieblood member o our group say she was alone and riendless/ he reason is that there was no discipleship. >o one ever got beyond the surace and into her lie.he number one reason that people leave their church is they have no real relationships. eople come into a congregation) they eel accepted and welcomed so they 0oin. hey may be respected and well liked, but because discipleship never gets beyond a %unday morning handshake, they begin to eel isolated. hurch becomes a routine instead o a hunger. eople then go to church out o a eeling o obligation to !od, not because we have a true love or !od-s people. *hen we get to this point, we are only one disappointment away rom giving up. *e all need something more than this routine. he reason why we long or something more is because we were designed or something more. !od did notcreate any +?one hristians-. !od calls us to lit each other up. here should not be a single person in the church that does not have at least one riend they meet with in an unstructured environment outside o church. Accountability. :cclesiastes @  wo are better than one, 4ecause they have a good reward or their labor. 1' $or i they all, one will lit up his companion. 4ut woe to him who is alone when he alls, $or he has no one to help him up.$riendship is the key or accountability. ?et me give two e;amples o this rom my own lie. ( have a riend that is very active in his church. ( have had three people tell me that he credits me with where he is spiritually today. (t is almost comical to think about, but it really shows what discipleship is all about.( wasn-t very spiritual during the time we leaved close to each other and our riendship lourished. At times, ( was clueless and there were times when ( regret how ( really ailed him as a riend and ( wondered why he credits me with anything. >ot one time that ( can think o did ( ever +e;pound- the scriptures to him. ( can-t remember even talking about the 4ible. *e became riends, ( invited him to church and we went together every week. ( didn-t nurture him along. ( wasn-t his mentor) ( was his riend.he other e;ample is a deacon in the church ( was a part o when ( was in my early twenties. &e was one o the highlights o church. &e had a lot o charisma and was en0oyable to be with. &e went on a  planned business trip or B weeks. Almost three months later, ( still had not seen him. 7n the way to church ( drove past his house and saw his car so ( pulled in or a uick visit. My only intention was to say ( had missed seeing him. *e talked about little things and as ( was leaving he said, C<ou are the irst person rom church that has bothered to contact me these last B monthsD. &ow can a deacon go unnoticed/ 4ut even i he wasn-t a deacon, there is still no e;cuse or anyone to go unnoticed. *hat a ailure o the church. 4ut it happens every week in churches around the world. he ne;t week he was atchurch and he continued to come regularly. &e elt touched by a simple 1E minute visit.hese stories aren-t meant to sound boastul. ( was pretty much clueless, but !od ordained these circumstances so that ( could look back at this time and see clearly how discipleship works. ( did not even intend to act spiritual) ( was 0ust making contact with people ( counted as riends. oday ( can look back and learn rom my ailures and these circumstances. &ow many people drited away that ( never even thought about/ 7r how many times did ( 0ust assume that they were going to another church  and it was too late/ ( have two success stories, but how many ell through the cracks/ My prayer is that  believers would take discipleship as a serious command and none would all through. *e can-t prevent  people rom leaving when they reuse to return, but those people are the e;ception. Most leave because they eel neglected. eco!ing a Discipler here are only two types o people who can-t be a discipler 6 someone who is not a disciple F a ollower o hrist G and someone who disobeys !od-s command and reuses to disciple. he 4ible saysin roverbs 2H1H, CAs iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance o his riend.D hat is  basic discipleship in a nutshell. ouple this with the passage rom :cclesiastes we read earlier and the vision or 4iblical discipleship begins to come clear. *hen a brother is down, it is our responsibility to come along side and encourage. *hen a brother or sister alls, i we have a discipleship riendship, the other is there to pick them up. ( we all alone, who will pick us up/ Anyone can all. (n act, the scripture warns us that those who think they stand should beware or else they will all F1 orinthians 1'12G. harles empleton was once an evangelist and the riend o 4illy !raham. &e is now a sel proclaiming atheist. ( don-t know the circumstances around his all or who tried to help him, but this serves as an e;ample that even the +spiritual giants- are not any less vulnerable than the rest o us.*e can-t prevent people rom making bad choices. *e have no control over someone-s lie and when we try to shape someone, we are entering into !od-s territory. !od has called us to be disciplers, not creators. <ou can-t disciple someone i you are not a disciple yoursel. Jesus said in John 1B BE, 4y this all will know that you are My disciples, i you have love or one another. <ou never uit being a disciple. <our love or your brothers and sisters is evidence o your love or hrist. <ou can-t love !od and be a disciple o hrist and neglect &is command to love each other. At the center o that love is discipleship. 1 John B1' puts it this way, C(n this the children o !od and the children o the devil are maniest *hoever does not practice righteousness is not o !od, nor is he who does not love his  brother.D*hat does it mean to love my brother/ $irst we have to look at love. *henever the 4ible commands usto love, it is always Agape 6 selgiving, selsacriicing, outward love. ?ove that is not based on receiving, but on giving without reuiring a return. *e don-t reach out because we eel comortable,  but because we love the children o !od that are our brothers and sisters in hrist. an ( say that ( love !od and never have love or &is people/ he 4ible says no. 1 John @ asks us, C&ow can we say we love !od, who we cannot see and not love &is children that we have seen/DMost people ear getting involved because they don-t know where to start. roverbs 182@ tells us, CA man who has riends must himsel be riendly, 4ut there is a riend who sticks closer than a brother.D ( have ound that to be true. *hen we open up to someone else, they will usually open up to us. 5iscipleship is really a partnership. ( meet with several men outside o church. ( am not their mentor. %ome are more solid believers than ( am. he best discipleship is a mutual riendship and mutual respect. eople do not respond to someone who tries to come into their lives as a mentor. $ew people are in a position to successully establish the aulIimothy relationship. eople will respond to a pastor or someone they think o as a spiritually e;perienced elder. 4ut even that can-t replace the riendshipIpartnership way o discipling.Many years ago my wie and ( got to know a couple at our church. *e seemed to have a lot in commonso we invited them over. he husband had a real heart or discipleship but his approach was hard to take. *e stepped outside to chat and or the ne;t two hours he tried to disciple me. ( can-t even remember what he talked about because all ( could think about was +(s this ever going to end/- ( wasn-tlooking or a master student relationship. ( was looking or a riend. ( could not wait or that night to end and that relationship aded away. :ven though his intentions were good, he made #ero impact in  my lie. :ven though ( was struggling spiritually at the time, ( needed a relationship more than a lecture.*hen ( meet men or discipleship, it is not a mentorship. (t is a riendship. ( learn rom them and hope they learn rom me. Just starting a hristcentered riendship can be like laying a ire on dry wood that causes our desire or hrist to ignite. ( love to discuss the 4ible and ( really en0oy being around men who en0oy the same. &owever, ( don-t place anyone below me. *e each stand on the same ground at the same level. :ven i we are not at the same place spiritually, we can still be eyetoeye in our riendship. 7nly in riendship can the walls come down and will we allow ourselves to have the vulnerability to share our real needs. his is a hard concept to get across. *hen someone comes to hrist, people try to disciple them as a leader instead o as a riend. A person is much more open to share struggles and ask uestions to a riend than with someone on a pedestal. (t is this misconception o mentorship that makes people cower at the idea o discipleship. hristians believe that they have to achieve a certain level beore they are ready to disciple. 4ut that is not scriptural. Mentorship is not the same as discipleship, though it is a part o the discipling process. Mentorship is what aul did with imothy. &e recogni#ed imothy-s calling and spiritual gits and aul mentored imothy to be his replacement so he could give the ministry away. he mentorship principle o discipleship comes long ater !od has used relational discipleship to produced ruit.elationship discipleship is the heart blood o the church. Jesus commanded it. Jesus lived it as our e;ample. *hy did everyone 6 including the vilest sinner eel like they could approach Jesus/ (t was  because Jesus humbled &imsel. &e met their need or acceptance and worth irst and out o that relationship repentance was born. he 4ible says, Cit is the goodness o !od that leads you to repentanceD. Jesus welcomed sinners but &is lie and message changed their lives. &e welcomed sinners, but &e didn-t allow them to remain sinners. hey either became disciples or adversaries.7ur lives should be welcome mats. hough we can-t change anyone-s lie, our lie can relect !od-s grace, which does change lives. Just by simply establishing riendships and getting on the same level aseach other, we can become disciples and disciplers. aul taught this very principle. &e said, to the Jew, ( became a Jew. o the !reek ( became !reek. o the weak ( became weak and to the strong ( became strong. ( became all things to all people. &e compromised the delivery without compromising the message. 5iscipleship and liestyle evangelism are not much dierent. *e get into people-s lives or the sake o loving them and becoming instruments o !od-s grace. 7ur ocus is on hrist, not on how to disciple.( worked with a man in ministry who had a real servant-s heart. ( always called him the backbone o our eort. &e accepted hrist shortly ater getting out o prison about B years ago. oday that man is in  prison again. 7n the 0ob he was beriended by two guys who were still using drugs. &e dropped out o church and disappeared rom the ministry. &e got deeper and deeper into trouble until he ound himsel  back into his old ways and the same conseuences. *e can see that relationships work both ways. he world has no problem reaching out to the church to draw members away. *e shouldn-t have any trouble reaching our own members and reaching the world.*e have to irst make the paradigm shit. 4asic discipleship means hristian ellowship. hat ellowship must e;tend outside the structured programs o the church. rue hristian ellowship should produce riendship, accountability, and praying together. %piritual maturity levels mean very little, but interest level means a lot. ( believe the irst step the local church should make is establishing a way to link partners and ollowing up so that this vital discipleship does not ade away. *e all have time or one church riendship. ( we don-t, that is a symptom o a deeper problem that also needs to be addressed.
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