Steps To Discipleship
Good Morning! Welcome to Fox Valley Christian Church, where every member is a missionary.
We have been talking about returning to the original model of Discipleship. The model where growth; real spiritual teaching, transformation, life change … was initiated by the Church, built up by the Church, and passed on by the Church.
What we do not mean is that the Minister or the Programs of the local Church body are the ones doing all of the teaching, leading, guiding, passing on … what we mean is that:
- Each individual member of the Church body is reaching and teaching.
- Each individual member of the Church body is evangelizing and Discipling.
- Each individual member of the Church body is leading others to commit to Christ and then growing them to know Him more so that they can serve Him and share Him with others.
The goal for the Elders, the staff, and myself then is not to do every bit of individual evangelism and discipleship, it is not to create a flawless program for evangelism and discipleship that works for all people, in all situations, at all times. It is, rather, to facilitate evangelism and discipleship by equipping and training each one of you so that you are able to equip and train others.
We have been talking about this process that takes time. We have talked through the goals of discipleship. They seem daunting, but that’s okay because it is the mission that God has given us, and we recognize that this kind of mission must be daunting because it can only be done by God. He is just awesome enough that He chooses to do it through us.
Last week we talked about what a Disciple Maker looks like and what type of person we are looking for to Disciple. Remember, discipleship is different from evangelism. We do not pick and choose who to make God known to, but we need to be good stewards of our time and energy when it comes to investing into a person to disciple. Check that sermon out if you missed it.
Once you do identify someone though that might be a good disciple … NOW YOU NEED TO BEGIN MOVING TOWARDS A MORE STRUCTURED DISCIPLING RELATIONSHIP. That is what we are going to look at today.
How do you take steps toward discipleship? Some of you might realize that you are already on that path. And how can you create, communicate, and carry out a vision for you and your disciple?
Again, the discipleship process is a creative process and people are unique and different so the way that we disciple will look different for each person. You will not use the same path every time and no two disciple makers are always going to use the exact same path. This requires creativity and sensitivity to each situation.
That being said, there are some basics that we can talk through that will help you as you take steps into a discipling relationship.
STEPS TO DISCIPLESHIP
STEPS TO DISCIPLESHIP
This might sound silly, but developing a friendship is an important step. You are going to have to discuss things that are sometimes and often hard. You are going to need to be mutually vulnerable with each other and a deep friendship is going to be foundational for a discipling relationship.
If you are already friends, great … deepen that friendship with genuine Biblical friendship. The kind of friendship we see between David and Jonathon. The kind of friendship that is based on Christian love.
1 JOHN 3:16-18
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
This kind of love, this kind of friendship is not just a feeling … it is a decision. IT IS A DECISION TO COMMIT TO GIVING OF YOURSELF IN EVERY AREA FOR THE GOOD OF ANOTHER. This kind of love, this kind of friendship can only be achieved by God’s strength.
This does not mean you will always enjoy being in the others presence, it does not mean you will “click” with them. From time to time, they will aggravate you and you will aggravate them. That’s okay. Because we love them, we continue to serve them and commit ourselves to their good.
As you begin discipleship, you should seek to develop a deep Biblical friendship.
Next, we move toward meeting regularly for the purpose of building each other up.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Sometimes this will organically happen. Sometimes you will be asked if you are available to meet regularly. Sometimes we need to take the step and move toward regular meetings. Here are some ways that you can suggest meeting together regularly (and some of you might already be doing this):
- You could simply suggest meeting for mutually build each other up. This way, it doesn’t seem like you are suggesting a hierarchical arrangement. Depending on who you are discipling, they may be standoffish to relationship like that at first.
- You could refer to a specific study that you have done before, a book you have read, etc and see if your friend would be interested in studying that or a similar study with you.
- You could use a problem or needs-based approach. This approach begins when your friend brings up a problem or need during regular conversations. For instance, your friend may share worry about their marriage. You could point out that you heard a certain book was helpful to other couples struggling in the same area. Would they be interested in reading it together? Or, they mention that they wish they had more confidence when sharing there faith, or that there friends asked them questions they couldn’t answer. Then you could point out that you know a book that was helpful in that very area. Instead of just suggesting that they read it themselves, suggest reading it together, or just ask if they would be interested in going over some Bible passages that might help.
- Some people like to take a direct approach. In this approach, you explain to your friend what personal discipleship is. Then you ask whether they would be interested in joining in a relationship like that. This is good for established believers and sometimes it is good for people that are more direct or blunt. It gives you a chance to explain some conditions you want to put on the project; level of involvement, effort you expect him to exert, etc.
RECOGNIZE GROWTH/DESIRE FOR MORE
RECOGNIZE GROWTH/DESIRE FOR MORE
Regardless of how you bring the idea up, once you begin to meet and study together … you should see growth or a desire for growth.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
When we begin to meet, God is the one at work. Especially if we are studying through His Word. Because of this, you should see growth or a desire for growth. If you do not; then you need to look a
little deeper before stepping into a discipling relationship and make sure that they have really taken hold of the good news of Christ. That their faith is genuine.
Most of the times you can see a desire for more and if you have not yet begun to specifically talk about discipleship … this is a great time to formally discuss developing a discipleship relationship.
Finally, you should talk about the goals and purpose of discipleship (and your specific discipleship relationship). This would be a great time to create and communicate vision and decide how you will carry that vision out.
CREATING, COMMUNICATING, AND CARRYING OUT VISION
CREATING, COMMUNICATING, AND CARRYING OUT VISION
When we talk about vision; this is another area where we will see a lot of creativity and differences. It really depends on where you are, where your disciple is, and where they need to go. It also depends on who you are, who they are, and what are the best ways for you to both head down that road together.
Therefore, creating a vision, communicating that vision, and then carrying it out will be an essential step we take. So how do you do that? What is the best way to go about doing that?
When our disciples get a vision for their future as servants and even leaders for God, they become far more motivated to serve Him and make disciples. Disciples have to see where the process is headed before they are likely to give their all to growth and ministry.
So when we are talking about vision WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A PICTURE OF WHAT YOUR DISCIPLE COULD BECOME, HOW THEIR LIFE COULD BE ENHANCED BY BECOMING ALL THAT GOD HAS IN MIND FOR THEM, AND HOW THEY CAN ENRICH THE LIVES OF OTHERS BY LIVING OBEDIENTLY TO GOD.
When people have a strong sense of vision for their future, they are able to move forward unhindered despite any suffering or sacrifice that gets in the way of their goals. Like Paul says:
1 CORINTHIANS 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
How do we do this? How do we create a sense of vision in our disciples that will help them to strain forward and press on?
First, we need to have a sense of vision for them. We have to be able to see what God may have in store for them as they develop into a mature servant of God. This will most likely be different for each based on their skills, calling, equipping, situation, etc. But you need to have a vision of where they could be, because many are not going to see it for themselves.
Jesus in what is referred to as the High Priestly Prayer in John 17 has a vision for His disciples and for us. Paul has a vision for Timothy and we see him sharing this in 2 Timothy 2 and it is a generational vision like Christ’s that reaches the next disciple and the next.
We need to be able to look at those we disciple and have a vision for them. With God’s insight we should be able to see a future destination for them. Spend time with God praying for His vision so that you could see His vision for them.
When we say that the vision of FVCC is that “Every Member is a Missionary,” that is because the Elders have spent time with God [seeking, praying, envisioning] what it would look like if that were the case. We look at each of you on an individual level and in conversations we have had and we see you sharing God where you are, we see you building up your friends and family. We see you sharing Christ and leading others to commit to God, leading others to growth and service. We see you teaching and discipling.
We get excited when we think about the change that can happen in your families, in the schools, in the communities around us if God’s Church were to really live on mission. This drives us.
Get a vision for disciple. For some:
- Envision the changes that could happen in their family
- Envision what they could accomplish if they stepped into leadership in the Church
- Envision them as they cross seas in the name of Christ
- Envision them as they plant Churches or begin Small Groups
- Envision them as they create curriculum, write books, lead others in praise …
Each person we disciple we will most likely have a different vision. Spend time with God, praying that He allows you to see the vision, the plans that He has in store for their lives. Let this excite you and drive you.
COMMUNICATING THE VISION
COMMUNICATING THE VISION
Once you get a sense of vision or a disciple, now you need to communicate that vision.
SIDE NOTE: For some of you, you will create and communicate the vision at the same time. You might enter into a Discipleship relationship and decide to spend time praying for a vision for their future together.
Communicating a vision isn’t always easy. It might take time, it will most definitely take prayer. Some disciples struggle with negative views of themselves and are often reluctant to believe that God could use them because of shortcomings they perceive they have.
One of the best ways to communicate the vision to your disciple is to just begin communicating it. Speak plainly and clearly:
- “You know, I could really see you leading students to Christ. You connect with that age group and have a God given passion for them.”
- “I’ve been watching you, and I think God is setting you apart for global missions.”
- “I see you reaching the lost and sharing Christ with them. You have been equipped with such an empathy and understanding for those that are separated from God.”
- “I see you impacting the Kingdom of God through writing. You have an incredible ability to move people with the written word.”
Be ready to give details about the things you have seen that cause you to have a hope for their future.
SIDE NOTE: The purpose of vision is not to flatter or send people on wild goose chases. This is why we encourage you to spend time with God and really seek His vision for their future. Don’t just try to flatter or sway someone. If you are genuine in what you believe is God’s vision for their future, but later He makes it clear that He has a different vision … be ready and willing to share this and celebrate God’s leading.
Vision is something that is communicated often. Continue to remember what you are aiming for and why and continue to communicate this vision.
CARRYING THE VISION OUT
CARRYING THE VISION OUT
Finally, we have to carry out the vision by discipling. Barriers will likely arise, but the goals and vision should drive both the disciple maker and the disciple to persevere despite the barriers.
We will carry out the vision by taking steps that lead to the goals of discipleship. This is where creativity happens and steps go in many different orders. You can expect though to be:
- Continue building friendship
- Continue to meet regularly
- Begin to be more vulnerable in what you share
- Study both Biblical and Theological studies together
- Pray together
- Counsel and help your friend in areas of weakness
- Help them as they develop a ministry
- Release your disciple to pursue a life of service to God (This does not mean the friendship ends and that there will never be opportunities for mutual growth. It just means that they will eventually step out on their own. Think parent/child relationship)
As we finish this series and as we leave here missionaries and missionaries in the making I want to encourage you to:
- Continue seeking God’s will for you. Is there someone you should be discipling? Is there someone that should be discipling you?
- Look for ways that you can be developing discipling relationships?
- Seek God’s vision for those you are discipling?
- Pray, Pray, Pray (This is God’s good work. We need Him to not only equip us and guide us, we need Him to be working through us, and to continue to humble us so that we do not become arrogant believing that we are accomplishing a good work apart from Christ.)