Discipleship is a popular topic today. However, when we think of discipleship we oftentimes mean something entirely different from what we see in the Bible. Prayerfully consider the following passages from the Bible:
- If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26).
- And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).
- In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:33).
- If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples (John 8:31).
- By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).
- This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples (John 15:8).
- We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
- No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16, The Message).
- My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you (Galatians 4:19).
- Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19,20).
What Is a Disciple?
From Mark’s gospel we learn: “And He went up to the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out demons” (Mark 3:13-15).
Who Is a Disciple of Our Lord?
Anyone who is called of God, deeply and personally committed to Jesus Christ by faith, empowered by His Holy Spirit, who is sent out in the power and authority of our Lord, and who continues and extends His life and Great Commission ministry.
Christ’s Discipleship Process:
• Jesus called His disciples (John 15:16).
• The relationship between Jesus and His followers was up close and personal (John 15:15)
• The pathway of a disciple of Christ was the pathway of self-sacrifice and service (Luke 9:23,24)
• Christ’s discipleship was a blessing, never a burden (Matthew 11:28-30).
The Requirements of Discipleship:
• The disciple of Jesus Christ must put Jesus above everyone and everything – he or she must value following Jesus Christ above life itself (Luke 14:26) – there are no shortcuts.
• The disciple of Jesus Christ must place his commitment to Christ above material possessions (Luke 14:33).
• The disciple of Jesus Christ must daily die to self-interest (Luke 14:27).
• The disciple of Jesus Christ counts the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33).
New Testament Discipleship for Today:
• Discipleship is a life-long process by which we become servants and friends of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:14,15).
• There are distinct stages in discipleship – it was a number of years until those who were with our Lord were qualified and released by Him to carry on His work; Paul spent years in preparation also (Galatians 1:15-18).
What is a Discipleship Process/Curriculum?
Some misconceptions about discipleship are that it is thought of as a component of teaching, the number of sermons you listen to, the number of books you read, how many Bible verses you memorize, etc. Though discipleship does include these elements, it is much, much more. Discipleship is all about becoming Christ-like … becoming a doer of the Word. One way to grasp the concept of biblical discipleship is to view it as spiritual parenting. Taking a look at Deuteronomy 6:1-25, we see some significant discipleship principles:
• The aim of discipleship is obedience to God’s Word, not just head knowledge.
• Discipleship is founded on a relationship with God and with others; it is both vertical and horizontal (Matthew 22:37-40).
• Discipleship recognizes that one is a teacher and another is a student, both mutually submitted to one another, both on the journey, both learning to walk as Jesus walked.
• Discipleship recognizes that learning involves transparency, safety, confidentiality, content, environment, experiences and relationships. An effective discipleship process is built upon strong foundational biblical principles.
• Discipleship creates an environment where no one stands alone, struggles alone, serves alone, develops alone, seeks alone, or grows up alone. Our purpose is to help you fulfill the Great Commission by providing a proven process and field-tested resources.
- Considering both the Old Testament and New Testament, what is the background to the idea and meaning of discipleship?
- What did the process of NT discipleship look like?
- What was Jesus’ method of discipleship. What are some aspects of it?
- What do you think about the kind of people Jesus chose as his disciples?
- What does it mean to put Christ first in your life?
- What is the proper relationship between Christ and ourselves and our material possessions?
- What is the relationship between God’s grace and the process of discipleship?
- Are there rewards for the person who draws near to God in the process of obedience (i.e., discipleship)?
- Are there areas in your walk with Jesus that need to be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in terms of discipleship?
Discipleship – Considering Your Process:
• Is your discipleship process intentional, comprehensive, transformational, accountable, relational, focused, relevant, and dependent upon the Holy Spirit?
• Are life needs and questions answered through your discipleship process?
• Is your discipleship process academic and relational?
• Are important truths and principles conveyed and imparted?
• What will students/disciples know, believe and do as a result of your process?
• Does your process focus on the Master’s plan for discipleship?
• Are you making disciples as Jesus commanded?
We agree that there is nothing more eternally rewarding than introducing people to the Lord. Yet, it is not enough to lead people to a saving faith in Christ and then hope that they grow up in Christ on their own. We believe God is calling us to make disciples, teaching them to observe all that He commanded. We hope you find that our comprehensive Children’s discipleship process and resources helpful as you purpose to make disciples in Jesus’ magnificent name.