Thursday is for Discipleship
Pretty soon, the conversation will move to questions of how to do it and what to use to do it. Often the next step is the design or selection of some curriculum that it is hoped will yield a better, deeper disciple who brings both greater glory to Christ and has a greater impact in the world.
Eventually, a series of topics is decided upon; then a class, a seminar, a course of study, a series of books to read is agreed to and the process is initiated. We have done this “forever.” I have done it. I was trained to do this. I have trained others to do this. And to be honest, I have seen some good results.
But a nagging thought for me is that I see nothing that looks anything like this pattern in the pages of the New Testament. It just doesn’t look anything like what we see Jesus doing with the disciples or what Paul does with his.
In fact, Jesus’ pattern is decidedly non-us.
Jesus never put on a seminar on how to preach. He never conducted a class on how to do evangelism. He never put together a school to train disciples how to pray. Paul doesn’t either.
In fact, there is a total absence of any of our typically Western forms in the disciple-making process of the New Testament. By the end of the first century, we know that the early church was beginning to move in a catechetical direction for new disciples but even this is absent in the pages of Scripture. So how did Jesus do it?
13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.
This inaugural call of the first disciples is stripped-down basic. The savior makes his choice.
- He calls them. He is the initiator
- He appoints them He is the director
- He names them apostles He gives them purpose (named for the purpose of sending out)
Now to the process. The second half of verse 14 as well as verse 15 give us a hint as to what that process was. “…so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.” Jesus’s process seems to be more relational than curriculum driven.
I think the most descriptive way to explain it would be “INTENTIONAL WITHNESS.” Jesus’s process was to spend purposeful time with his disciples. He had a goal in mind. His purpose was to send them out to preach. For now, I am going to leave “casting demons” out of the discussion. We can all debate that at another time.
Here’s the question and the challenge:
How do we shape our discipleship process in ways that look and feel more like the “intentional withness” of Jesus and Paul?