This is part 12 in a 12 part Series on D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.S.H.I.P. – Twelve Tips to help you become a more effective discipler of children.
“Life is the best laboratory.”
We don’t disciple in order to pass on a head full of knowledge. We disciple in order to prepare others for a life of following Jesus! Therefore, it is important during the discipling process to include opportunities for your disciples to put into practice the things they are learning. Don’t think that once they finish learning everything you are teaching them they will “graduate” and then go out and apply it. If you have merely met and read the Bible and talked about godly living as a “concept,” that will be the lesson they have learned – that spirituality is something that you sit around and talk about. Your disciples will learn, if not in word, but in example, that Christianity is a matter of talk rather than of action. No matter what you are studying and learning about, you must look for real life areas in their life, or in your church or community, where they can apply what they are learning.
If you are learning about how to study the Bible, they must start to study the Bible – and allow what they are studying to impact their life in some practical ways. It may even mean not moving forward to a new topic until they have seen how God’s Word can impact their life! If you are studying prayer, ask them for some specific things to pray about, and keep them in prayer throughout the discipleship process, noting how God answers prayer. If you are learning about how to witness, make a list of unsaved friends and guide your disciple through some experiences in sharing their faith with some friends or inviting them to a church outreach. Even if they don’t see the results they desire right away, these will be growing experiences. If you are discussing church service, find out if or how they are involved at church. If they aren’t, if possible, get them involved in some capacity at church before moving on to the next lesson. All disciples should be serving in the local church in some capacity. Guiding them through these growing experiences, as part of your discipleship, can be the difference between whether the lessons you teach “stick” long after the time you invest to meet with them.
In addition to practical life application to the lessons you are working through, be sure to be asking what is going on in their lives. Asking for prayer requests is often a way to find out where they need help or guidance. Show them how what you are studying applies to these life situations. Also, be aware of other Kingdom events going on in your community or city that they could take advantage of that could add to the discipling experience. Conferences, seminars, retreats and concerts can all be learning opportunities that can build into your disciples.
Discipleship is more caught than taught, and it is caught along the journey more than it is sitting talking. So invite your disciples to practice what you talk about, and you’ll soon see them having their own “ah ha” moments as they see what you talked about in a discipleship meeting making a big difference when applied to their life.
Soon they will be discipling others and sharing stories of what they learned from you, and the difference it made in their life. That is the disciplers goal! To be a discipler of disciplers! After all, someone discipled you first and it was after you saw the difference God made in your life that made you decide to become a discipler, wasn’t it? Providing learning opportunities is what takes the concepts and transforms them into real life transformation.