What is the goal of discipleship? Why is it so important in the church? In our lives? Why do we have and need it? These are some of the questions that we will be looking at answering today. Being involved in discipleship is one thing, but truly understanding why we do it, brings you to a whole other level of discipleship.
What is Discipleship
Discipleship is the teaching of Biblical theology and lessons while modeling a righteous, Christ filled life style. It equips Christians with the Word of God, fellowship and positive relationships, encouragement, accountability prayer, and discipline. Discipleship isn’t something that is meant to be easy, or meant to end. It is an ongoing process that takes time, commitment, energy, effort, and patience. It is something that can’t be done on our own but must take place in community. It should take place in all of our relationships. If discipleship is teaching and modeling, we need someone to teach and model to; but, it is also about learning and growing ourselves, and for that we need someone to teach us and be a model to us as well.
The Goal of Discipleship
So what is the goal of it all? Is it to make converts? Plant more churches? What is the point of discipleship? The goal of discipleship isn’t about making converts or even disciples; it is about making disciplemakers. What do I mean by disciplemakers? A disciple is a follower of Christ, while a disciplemaker is a follower of Christ who turns and goes and makes more disciples. They don’t just settle with being a disciple. But that’s not the ultimate goal; the ultimate goal of discipleship is helping others become more like Christ. This can in turn lead to more churches being planted, but ultimately the goal of discipleship is to be in fellowship with other disciples helping one another become more like Christ.
Why is it Important
Discipleship plays a very important role in the church as well as in our individual lives. Can a church without discipleship truly be a church? Would you go to a church where there is no fellowship, or teaching of the Bible or encouragement or prayer? I wouldn’t, and that is why discipleship is important for churches. It helps the congregation of the church grow and flourish in their faith lives. Discipleship is important in our lives because it is important in the church. Discipleship brings things like positive relationships, encouragement, support, prayer, love and new lessons to learn. All of these things are things that we need; not because we are Christians but because we are human. We need love, support and relationships in our life and, because we are disciples, we need these to come from other disciples. When we get these from other people who understand our faith, the encouragement and support that we receive will be agreeable with Scripture and with God.
But we need to remember that discipleship also brings accountability and discipline. If we don’t have people, other disciples, keeping us accountable to living like Christ, the chances of us straying are greater. Accountability from other disciples will help us stay aware of our life style and keep us from straying from living a righteous life. And with accountability comes discipline. From childhood, discipline has been important in our lives. When we wanted to do something bad, our parents disciplined us to teach us not to do it, and we still need this. When we do something that goes against what Scripture says, we need someone to discipline us. Not in the sense that we judge and punish them but we help them see the wrong in their actions and walk with them as they work to fix the issue. When discipleship takes place in our own lives and we are able to grow in our faith and continue to be more like Christ, the church will also grow with us.
How Do We Do It
Like I said, discipleship takes time, commitment, energy, effort and patience. It is a process that never ends. It should start the moment we decide to follow Christ, and it should never end. That is why it is important to make disciplemakers and not just disciples. Making disciplemakers will secure the ongoing process of discipleship as it is used to make more disciples.
But what does it look like to do discipleship other than just giving our time and energy to others? Discipleship is all about teaching and fellowship. It starts with disciples. These disciples than create a community (e.g. a church) with other disciples, they are in fellowship with others who believe in Christ and want to live like Him. Once this fellowship is built you can work on building discipleship programs like Bible Studies and Kids clubs and continue to make disciplemakers. It is important to realize that discipleship starts with disciples. It can’t work if it goes backwards starting with an organization, then programs hoping to make disciples. How can disciples be made if there are no disciples to help teach and walk along the new disciples?
In summary, discipleship is teaching and fellowship among disciples with the goal of helping each other become more like Christ. It is important that we have discipleship in our lives as, without it, we can’t grow in our faith walk and help build a positive community. Discipleship is about giving a reason for your faith. Through teachings, encouragement, prayer, support and good modeling we are able to show others why we have faith and how we live like Christ which can help them do the same. We all need discipleship, no matter where we are in our faith walk. If you are not involved in discipleship already I encourage you to go and get involved. Find a discipleship group to join or start one yourself with a few friends. Not sure how to start one? Take a look at the resources and blog posts at omscanada.org, or leave a comment and I would love to help you get started! Remember discipleship starts with you being a disciple that is in fellowship with other disciples.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters."