Multiply discipling opportunities

How out of the box do we think? Let’s be honest, not very. Not many of us are that entrepreneurial. We tend to do what we’ve done before, or what we’ve heard others do. But the problem with that is that it doesn’t work for everyone. We end up trying to squeeze, or hammer, or wedge square pegs into round holes.

Just stop and think for a minute: how are you discipling others? We know that Jesus calls us to make disciples – not just converts. We know – at least we do if we stop and think for any length of time about it – that is so much more than just sharing the gospel with someone, it is a lifelong helping them become like Jesus. It involves time and commitment and sharing and honesty and love and friendship and encouraging words and rebuking words, and modelled living. But how does your church disciple people? How do you disciple people?

Stop and think. Take an inventory. Everything we do is in one way or another discipling someone. The way we do church on Sunday morning disciples our people. The way we talk of the bible, sing our songs, and pray all disciples people. And there’s loads we could dig into there but that’s not what I’m thinking about in this post. What are the discipling opportunities you have and are they all of one type? Do they all look the same? Are they all sit down and listen to someone teach? Are they all experts delivering? Or do we have multiple means of discipleship? Do they involve discussion? The chance to get stuff wrong? laughter? Fun?

We started Formation discipleship last night. And it’s different from our Sunday morning which is fairly vanilla Sunday service, with prayer, singing, preaching, and time spent applying God’s word to our lives. It’s also different from our Gospel Group (think bible study) where we work through some questions together as we study God’s word led by an individual. Formation is more like your continuing professional development you get at work, which is looking to upskill you and equip you. There’s pre-reading and thinking to do, that you’d ideally do with others. Then there’s discussion over coffee and cake before the session proper, and then a mix of teaching, discussion, group work and prayer. And all the time we’re looking to make it personal, to ask ‘So What?’ So what difference does this make to me? The idea is that its equipping us to disciple others better in the church by helping us enjoy God more and be formed more like Jesus. I really enjoyed our first session and am looking forward to more.

But we also need more informal discipleship opportunities. One of the things I’ve loved about lockdown is doing lots of walking with various people from church, chatting as we walk, asking questions of one another about how we’re doing spiritually and gathering prayer fuel for each individual family. I’m loving that I’ve been able to start meeting up with people one to one again to discuss issues, read the bible or read God’s word. But we really need to multiply even more ways of discipling people, living life alongside them, modelling grace and forgiveness and love. I wonder if this is going to be the hardest thing fo all to do post lockdown, we’ve all just got out of the habit of hanging with people, building friendships founded on following Jesus and spurring one another on to love Jesus more and be more like him?

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