It is quite tempting to think that discipleship is about a method. There are many methods to choose from when making disciples but discipleship isn’t a method.
As I have studied discipleship, I have found myself more and more studying the method over the man. This is a mistake. There is no method without the man.
What is discipleship, if it isn’t a method?
Discipleship is a journey with Jesus and while you can be intentional about a planned path to successfully following Jesus you have to make sure to not make an idol of the process. The process has to have some give and take. Sometimes you need to rest when the program says “go.” Sometimes you need to serve the person in the coffee shop rather than walk through the next lesson together. That doesn’t mean we can’t be intentional about doing specific things, it just means you have to make sure that you are following Jesus rather than a just executing a discipleship program.
Saying discipleship is not a method is the same as saying marriage is not a workshop. You can go to workshops to learn how to have a better marriage. You can learn and execute on skills that improve your marriage. But the workshop isn’t your marriage just like the method isn’t discipleship. You do all these things because you are drawing closer and closer to Jesus – because you are attracted to Christ, love Christ and want to be with him and more like him. So these are the natural things you end up doing (which we often boil down into a systematic method).
At its core, discipleship is the journey with Jesus in community with others who are journeying with Jesus.
Discipleship is a relationship so it involves listening to (reading) his teachings and trying to live by them. Discipleship is keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb 12:1-3), learning his way of life to live his way of life. In the process, the Holy Spirit changes us. We are transformed more and more into his mind (1 Cor 2:16), his image (Rom 8:29 & 2 Cor 3:18), and his attitude/mindset (Phil 2:5).
Learn his teaching to live his teaching
In the Great Commission Jesus said a disciple is someone who is baptized and is taught to obey his teaching. How do we become a disciple if we aren’t baptized? Many of have emphasized that part of it without the second – how do we become a disciple without learning his teaching to live/obey his teaching? I don’t think it is fair to pit Jesus against Paul but so often we obsess over what Paul wrote without obsessing over what Jesus wrote first.
I encourage you, exhort you even, to be in the gospels on a daily basis in 2023. Make Jesus your first thought in the morning and your last thought at night. Listen to Jesus to live for Jesus. Keep your focus on him. Read his words every single day. Challenge yourself to take one more step closer to Jesus with each thing he teaches you by living what he said.
Watch God change your life! I can’t wait to talk with you about it in 2023 as we focus more and more on Jesus in the posts here.
What can I pray about for you?
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy this one – If Discipleship Isn’t a Program, What Is It?