This is Part 1 of an ongoing series on one to one discipleship.
Over the last couple of years, Salem has begun to have a new excitement for discipleship. The church as a whole has seen that the Great Commission is not only about making converts. The Great Commission calls us to make disciples of those converts. It is not an either/or. It is a both/and. One of the best ways that the authors of the New Testament gave us to make disciples is through one on one discipling relationships.
Discipling relationships are formed when one person intentionally helps another person pursue after Jesus. It has been a great joy of mine to see many of these relationships form over the last couple of years. It is beautiful to see people walking with the Lord together. When one person pours into the life of another person disciples are made.
One of the most difficult things to do is to begin a relationship like this. Many people would like to have a relationship like this, but just don’t know where to begin. Today, we will look at what to look for in choosing someone both to be discipled by and to disciple (it goes two ways!).
Choose A Christian
We are called to go and make disciples of all people, but we can only disciple someone who has already converted to Christianity. Please, go and meet someone at the coffee shop regularly in hopes that you will win them to the Lord. However, that is not discipleship. That is evangelism (which all Christians are called to as well). The goal of a discipling relationship is to help a believer pursue Jesus. You cannot do that unless the person you are meeting with is already a Christian. Non-believers do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Choose someone who believes and watch the Holy Spirit work in their life.
Choose Someone In Your Church
It is best to find someone in your own local church to meet with for discipleship. You have a natural relationship already built in by being members of the same church. The same covenants of church membership are agreed on by both parties. There is already a rhythm to when you will see each other at church. You are sitting under the same teaching and are able to discuss what is brought up at your church.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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. – Hebrews 10:24-25
The author of Hebrews draws a line between encouraging each other in Christ and meeting together regularly. As we meet together regularly in the local church, relationships form and we are able to encourage one another to love and good works through discipling relationships.
Choose Based On Gender And Age
In Titus 2, Paul writes to the young pastor to make sure that older men are to teach younger men and older women are to teach younger women. There are certain relationships and topics of conversations that are best reserved for two people of the same gender. It is easier for a man to open up to a man and a woman to open up to another woman. Some conversations are simply not appropriate to have in mixed gender relationships. Men can disciple women and women can disciple men, but not in this type of intimate setting.
As far as age goes, there are plenty of examples of younger men and women leading older men and women in the Bible. Timothy and Titus immediately jump out. In some cases this is fine, but this should be based on whether or not the older person is a new believer or not. Older men and women should typically be discipling younger men and women because they have experience and wisdom to offer them.
Choose Someone Who Will Do The Same
The goal is to make disciples who make disciples. We want to multiply not add. The person you choose needs to be someone who is willing to go and disciple someone else. I have some discipling relationships that I am a part of. I am discipled by someone, and I disciple other men. From that one relationship up the chain there are 16 men being discipled. This is multiplication. Everyone is using their gifts to encourage and build up the church. One person is not doing everything, but everyone is pulling some weight.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. – 2 Timothy 2:1-2
You see how many levels of discipleship there are here? Paul disciples Timothy who disciples other men who in turn disciple others. That is four generations of discipling relationships. You make disciples by being a disciple.
Choose Someone Who Is Teachable
There are few things more frustrating than wanting to help someone who does not want to be helped. You are wasting your time if the person you are discipling chooses to stay where they are. I am not saying you give up on them or break all contact, but for the purpose of this relationship you want to help develop people into devoted followers of Christ.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. – Proverbs 19:20
Proverbs is full of wisdom on learning and growing. We want people we disciple to be serious about their pursuit of Jesus. This is high challenge. Those who are not ready to grow and go with God need not apply.
Choose Someone Based On Your Schedule
Finally, choose someone who has a schedule that matches up with yours. You have to be intentional about meeting regularly. If your schedules never line up, you will never be able to meet face to face. As we have opportunity we are to do good to all (Galatians 6:10). We are not going to be able to meet with some people just based on the opportunity we have with our schedules. If you are going to start meeting with someone in a relationship like this, make sure you have the time and place in your schedule to do it before you commit.
Once you go through this list, look around you. I think that you would be surprised at how many people fit the criteria just in the circles you are in at church already. Look for someone to disciple you and look for someone to disciple. Go ahead and make the ask. That is the hardest thing. Just put yourself out there and do it. You will grow and the other person will grow as well. That is what happens when disciples make disciples.