Today, I was asked by a seminary student to answer a few questions about discipleship. Below are the questions and my answers…What do you think?
1. Q: How you define “disciple” or “discipleship”? A: In the Great Commission, Jesus says, Go make disciples…baptizing them…and teaching them all that I have commanded…So, I would define discipleship as following Jesus, specifically in being baptized (implication here of repentance and faith of course) and all that He commanded (especially by participating regularly in the Lord’s Supper–implying being a part of the body of Christ and being under the authority and teaching of the local church).
2. Q: How do you “make disciples” (strategies, methods, materials used, etc.)? A: I think the main strategy for making disciples, according to Jesus would be proclaiming the gospel, calling converts to be baptized and to regularly participate in the Lord’s Supper (ie. the local church). Granted there should be a culture of discipleship at the local church (Bible studies, small groups, church discipline etc.). However, the main discipleship comes from the sermon on Sunday morning, as the Word of God is opened and explained. Ultimately, the church is God’s program for evangelism and discipleship.
3. Q: How do you know if you’ve been successful? A: Ultimately, we know when we stand before Jesus. But, I think the success comes from the process, not always tangible results. Jesus promised that the church would ultimately be successful (Matthew 16:18) when he told Peter that he would “build his church…” However, I do think that there should be both immediate and enduring fruit from a healthy, growing church. People should be growing in their understanding of the gospel, and as a result of that, their humility. That pastors should be growing in their abilities to proclaim the Word and shepherd the people of God. And the community should be increasingly aware of the impact of a corporate group of people who love each other, despite the color of their skin or financial status. They will know we are Christians by our love.
4. Q: What advice would you give to an emerging (just getting started) minister? A: I would give a new minister this advice: Preach and pray, Love and stay. Preach the word of God faithfully and passionately. Pray for the people and the ministry of the word. Love the people and shepherd them as one who must give an account (Hebrews 13:17). Stay for your whole life. Rome was not built in a day. The longer you stay, the stronger your relationships will become and the more you can learn about your people, yourself and your community.