A friend and I were talking about church recently, and have been asking the question, what’s the best way to develop a strong, healthy church? We’ve then went on to talk about programs, power ministry, small groups and discipleship as viable options. At the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that no one style of ministry can alone be the only way help fully develop; instead we need a combination of them all.
With that said, we didn’t address the question of which of these methods we would want to start with. We came to the conclusion that discipleship is where both of us will start. So you ask what is discipleship? Is there different types of discipleship? Should all believer be committed to being disciplers? What about having disciples, and being discipled, should all believers do these things as well?
Let’s start off with what is discipleship? Discipleship, the term was first coined from the early church. They were initially called the people of the Way. And if you were part of the group called the Way, that means that you were labeling yourself a person who’s so serious about Christianity that you didn’t mind martyrdom. So the call to discipleship was a serious and life-altering thing.
As time passed discipleship became more the study (suffix “ship) of how to become a disciple. In the traditional sense, discipleship became learning how to study the word of God, and how to pray; mostly its been more educational than imitation. Then as I went to college, I went to a group that really focus on discipleship that built strong christian foundations, ministry mindset and personal life development, all through this concept of imitation. And I realized how important discipleship was.
Now looking back at my years in discipleship (close to 10 years) I’ve come up with some personal thoughts about discipleship.
1. Discipleship helps a person recognize and develop their short comings.
2. Discipleship helps develops humility, trust and respect for their leaders.
3. Discipleship helps a person to learn about any subject in a truncated amount of time. Another words, if it takes a discipler 10 years to learn an important truth, a disciplee can learn that same truth in a year.
4. Discipleship is most ideal when it happens within a group.
5. Discipleship is the effective when a person submits themselves under one leader, at a time, and then goes through several leader in the process.
6. Discipleship helps people develop more depth than breathe about a subject.
7. Discipleship can not be just about teaching, it has to be about equipping.
8. Discipleship yields the best, well rounded, and most develop leaders in church.
9. Discipleship is important for every church regardless of their theology or denomination.
10. Discipleship should teach value rather than imitation.
So this brings me to the question about the different types of discipleship. In my viewpoint, I believe there is a clear definition between discipleship and mentorship. Mentorship is the study from a specific person for a specific topic or theme. Discipleship is the process of submitting oneself to another leader, to allow them to help guide, govern, correct and challenge a person’s life, whether upbringing, perspective or wrongly formed values and traditions.
As for discipleship, I believe Life-on-Life is the best form of discipleship. I coined this term to say that in discipleship, we should aim to tackle every facet of life, not just the subjects of building strong christian disciplines (e.g. studying the bible, prayer, etc..).
And about the process, discipleship is ideal when it is within a group of other people who share the same value of learning from a leader. Also this is taken place, a disciplee should also be under submission under a leader, and also be leading a group of his own disciples.
To back to my original question, i would say discipleship has to be the foundation for a healthy and strong church but that alone is not enough. We need other layers on top it. What do you ask? Well, that’s for another blog entry.