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Ordinary and Simple Discipleship (Part 1): What and Why

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This was a breakout session at the Women of Grace Event held on 14 May 2022. Originally taught by Carrie, the session focused on helping women understand the importance of discipleship in the Christian's life and to think about how they can help each other in their walk. This is the first of three posts.

The purpose of this session is to help us women see that we need one another to grow together as we walk together. Through this session, we want to share our wisdom, our understanding and love for the Lord with one another and learn from each other’s experience. A session like this also helps give shape to the commands of Scripture. This is important as growing together in a Christ-centred relationship also fosters a more intimate relationship with Jesus.

To prepare for this, the following sources were referenced: 

  1. Discipleship According to the Scriptures by Garrett Kell
  2. Growing Together by Melissa B. Kruger
Misconceptions and myths about discipling

Now, what comes to your mind when you hear of the word “discipling”? What are some misconceptions and myths about discipling? These are just some to start us off: 

  • It is not for me but for the “super Christians” or the spiritually matured, like the pastor’s wife etc.
  • It is difficult and I don't know how to do it.
  • It is too time-consuming and I do not have the time.

Do these sound familiar. Perhaps the last one—on time and busyness—is something that many of us struggle with. There are so many competing demands on our time such as work, family, children, church or friends, to name a few. 
Melissa Kruger in her book on “Growing Together” suggests that it’s not a busyness problem but a belief problem. This is worth pondering because we generally spend our lives on what we really believe will bring satisfaction. If Jesus is the one we need, the one who brings us satisfaction, fight for time with Him. Believe that He is the one thing needed and trust him for everything else.

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We hope that today’s time together can help us work through some of these misconceptions and myths.

What the Bible says about discipleship

What, then, is discipleship as commanded by the Bible? Garret Kell, a pastor who wrote an article on “Discipleship According to the Scriptures” suggests that “Discipleship is helping others to follow Jesus. It flows directly from being a disciple of Jesus. Disciples are called to follow Christ and following him means helping others follow him.”

Let’s understand this definition looking at what it takes as followers of Jesus. Firstly we see that disciples are followers of Jesus. In Matthew 4:19 and Matthew 11:29, we see how Jesus calls us to follow and learn from Him. Regardless of our background, abilities, intellect, marital status, we are all called to follow Jesus. The only
requirement for us is to repent of our rebellion against God, our Creator and put our faith in Him (Mk 1:15, 1 Thess 1:9). Through that, we find forgiveness in Him and are reconciled to Him. We who follow Jesus by faith are therefore His disciples.

However, there are some who suggest that those who get it done (who follow Jesus) are “super Christians” while Christians are just “normal believers”. Nowhere in scripture does it support such distinction—we either follow Jesus or we don’t. Jesus own words in Matthew 12:30 states it plainly: "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Secondly, disciples imitate and replicate Jesus. At the heart of following Jesus is Jesus’ call to imitate him and replicate him. As disciples, we are called to imitate Jesus’ love (John 13:34), mission (Matt 4:19), humility (Phil 2:5), service (John 13:14), suffering (1 Pet 2:21) and his obedience to the Father (1 John 2:3-6). Since he is our teacher, we are to learn from him and strive in the power of the Holy Spirit to become like him (Luke 6:40). This growth in Christlikeness is a lifelong endeavor that is shaped by the hopeful expectation that one day we will see him face to face (1 John 3:2-3).

Next, we are to see that disciples help others follow Jesus. Part of being followers of Jesus is to help others follow Him. We are disciples called to make disciples. We are called to evangelise. As Matthew 28:19-20 teaches us, we help others learn how to begin to follow Jesus by proclaiming the good news to those who do not follow Jesus, to call them to follow Jesus. We do so wherever God has placed us, whether at home, school, work, among friends. Later, different sisters will share and model for us how they responds in obedience and live out this passage.

Ephesians 2:19 and Ephesians 4:13 inform us that as members of the household of God, we are to actively build up each other in Christ, until we attain the fullness of Christ. We help each other grow to be like Christ and instruct each other about Christ and we do so by pointing each other to His word (Rom 15:4). Paul also told the Corinthians to imitate those who follow Christ (1 Cor 4:16), and this reminds us that we are to purposefully pour our lives into others so that they also in turn, pour themselves into others.

Disciples intentionally cultivate relationships. Discipleship does not just happen and we need to be intentional about cultivating deep, honest relationships in which we do spiritual good to other Christians. The most natural place for us to develop is in the local church community. In the church, Christians are already commanded to meet together regularly, spur each other on in Christ-likeness, and protect each other against sin (Heb 3:12-13; 10:24-25). These discipling relationships that spring out of the local church community should be both structured and spontaneous. We see how Jesus models in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 the formal teaching, but also allowed them to observe his obedience to God as they lived life together. 

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Structured vs spontaneous

So, what does a structured relationship look like? Here are some examples:

  • Two sisters can decide to read a chapter from the Gospel of Mark and then discuss it over coffee or a workout at the gym.
  • Two working mothers can read a chapter each week from a Christian book and then talk about it on a Saturday walk through the neighbourhood with their kids.
  • Two couples could do a date night together once a month and talk about what the Bible says about marriage. 
  • A godly older lady could invite a younger single woman over to her home on Tuesday afternoon to pray and study a Christian biography.
  • A stay-at-home mom could spend time at the park with other moms each week to share about what they learnt from the sermon and pray.

There are many, many other ways but regardless of the format, this structured form of our discipleship should involve scheduled times of reading, praying, confessing, encouraging, and challenging each other to become more like Christ.

What are some examples of spontaneous discipling relationships? 

  • Friends go to a movie together and then grab ice cream afterwards to compare the movie’s message to what the Bible says.
  • A mother and a daughter can go for a walk and reflect on God’s glory displayed in nature.
  • You could invite visitors from church over for lunch and ask everyone how they came to know Jesus. The recent Easter Meal Fellowship is one such example. 

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We always need to be intentional, but we don’t always need to be structured. In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses taught the nation of Israel about the 10 commandments and instructed them to do them in the land that they were going to possess. This verse shows us that discipleship happens “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Every moment presents an opportunity to discuss who God is and what he’s doing. Since we are always following Jesus, we always have the opportunity to help others follow him as well. We get involved in each other’s lives.

One way is to also invite another sister into and involve her in your life. Bring her along as you serve or minister in church. Invite her along as your prepare for, and teach a Bible study or a Sunday school class. If you are running errands, see if she wants to come along with you. If you are heading out for a walk or exercise, get her to join. Inviting her into your real life -- even into the piles of laundry and many messy moments—will help her feel comfortable sharing her life with you.

Thus, discipleship can be simple and done in the ordinariness of our lives.

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Other articles in the series and related articles: