The Personal Approach to Disciple-Making
Pastor Oliver encourages us to consider how we can disciple in the local church. It may sound daunting at first, but discipling is simply doing spiritual good to others and Pastor Oliver also shares some simple ways that we can do it.
Jesus Christ gave his church the mandate to make disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. Before he ascended to his Father, He spoke to his disciples "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (CSB). Jesus promised that His disciples would carry out the task of making disciples in His authority and with His presence.
What this task involves is described in verses 19-20. The main imperative verb is "make disciples." Making disciples involves both discipling unbelievers into the faith and growing believers to Christ-like maturity. The other verbs, "go", "baptising", and "teaching", modifies the main verb: it helps flesh out what making disciples look like.
Jesus' disciples are to make disciples as they are going about their life and work ("go" is better translated as "as you are going"). The implications mean that disciple-making is not a programme or a project; it is part of lifestyle or culture. In our homes, workplaces, schools, recreational places, we are to be about making disciples. "Teaching" means instructing and encouraging those we disciple to obey both the gospel and the moral and ethical commands of Jesus Christ. Finally, we are to baptise those we disciple. Baptism involves the ordinance of baptism. But it is more than that: it is a sign that the disciple has joined with a covenant community of faith. The implications are that the disciple is to join a local church and be part of the community's life.
Let's think about the disciple-making in the local church. An easy way to describe disciple-making is doing spiritual good to others (c.f. Mark Collins). We can observe a spectrum of discipling relationships within the church ranging from large public settings like worship service and preaching to personal interactions between two to three people. Large public settings like preaching tend to be better for directed teaching of Scriptures and declaring truths. Personal interactions tend to be better at getting at relevant individual life applications and providing accountability. Large groups like Equip and even smaller groups like our CGs tend to fall somewhere in-between on the spectrum. All of these approaches are important in fulfilling Jesus Christ commission to make disciples. For today, we will focus on personal discipling relationships.
There are broadly two approaches we can take when it comes to personal discipling relationships. The first approach involves spending time together around a Bible study. David Helm's book "One to One Bible Reading" describes this approach. One possible way this could look like is as follows:
- You agree to meet one or two others for one hour to read or study a book of the Bible.
- You spend the first 10 minutes catching up.
- The following 35 minutes involve reading and understanding the passage of Scripture using observation, interpretation and application. (You can refer to Mark Collins' Equip session on "Discipling One Another in the Local Church" for a simple method to do this).
- The remaining 15 minutes involves sharing personal applications and praying for one another. It can take just an hour and could feed into the lunch hour for those who work.
The second approach involves focusing on an area of sin struggle or an area of desired growth. One possible way this could look like is as follows. A fellow believer in the church approaches you, confesses his anger issues at home, and asks for your help.
- You agree to come alongside to walk with him.
- You arrange to meet for 1 hour 30 min over dinner. Much of your interactions involve ordinary conversations that include listening and asking questions.
- You seek to help understand the circumstances and his response to the events. It is important to understand your friend's heart responses and in it what it reveals about his relationship to God.
- Together, you talk through the consequence of his responses. You may bring in a passage of Scripture where it is wise and loving to do so, but your goal is to bring the gospel and Scripture to bear on the situation. For example, you find out that your friend gets angry when he returns home after a long day at work and his children make requests of him. On further talking, your friend admits that he wants to "just chill" by watching TV. Further gentle questioning helps him realise that he desires comfort rather than demonstrating love for his children as God has loved him. One book that can further help you how this looks like is Edward T Welch "Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love."
Personal discipling relationships are essential to the church's overall disciple-making. Bringing scriptural truth to bear on individual lives is one powerful way to help believers in the church grow in Christ-likeness, expressed in ordinary everyday lives, and grow in our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. I encourage us to pray and consider getting into personal discipling relationships as we seek to obey Jesus' great commission in Matthew 28:18-20!
1. Join us for our Equip Sessions on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Zoom only)
This takes place every Tuesday evening (8-9pm) from 12 Oct to 30 Nov 2021. Join the session here.
2. Join us for Prayer Meeting (Zoom only)
This will be at 8pm 29 Oct 2021. We will gather as a church to pray and bring our thanksgiving and prayer requests to our Father God. The link for the session can be found here.
3. Join us for in-person worship service at 5pm this Saturday (16 Oct 2021), or 9am this Sunday (17 Oct 2021).
You can register for service here. Online live-streaming for the services are also available: 5pm Saturday and 9am Sunday. We will look at 1 Peter 5:1-5 on "Shepherding with Hope". Pray for God's Spirit to prepare our hearts to hear from God's Word and to change us.