We’ve been considering our third of these critical five questions for strengthening your church–How will we teach them how to follow Jesus? Before we dive in again, let’s review where we’ve been so far.
We have already discussed the first two of five critical questions for the enhanced and ongoing health of your church. Our first question—How do we engage new people?—helped us see the critical need to develop specific strategic steps for connecting with people throughout our community. There simply can be no new day at your church without some new life!
Our second question occupied us for several blogs—How will we treat them when they walk through our doors? As we said, it would be tragic to work hard to connect with someone only to drop the ball when they visited our church. Effective hospitality and assimilation strategies are some of the most critical elements of a church health plan.
So how will we teach them to follow Jesus? The first part of an answer must address the content of our teaching. In our last entry, we started looking at what we want to teach them. After all, Jesus told us to teach them those things we had learned from Him. Certainly, the critical lessons of our own lives–especially the ones we are currently learning–need to be given primary focus. That might mean pre-empting other content to share a current challenge or victory. Because discipleship is life, the current moments of life are usually the most relevant.
What is God currently showing you or working on in your life? How are you sharing that with others? I realize that in our individualistic culture, we often think our own personal journey is just that–personal. But God works in community, and what He is trying to achieve in your life will likely have relevance to others too. Besides, letting those you lead see you engaging God’s teaching for yourself will pay dividends as well. We’re all disciples, so letting that show a bit can help those God has given you to teach.
Next, what discipleship truth does the one your discipling need right now? Would asking that individual reveal the answer? Now, I’m not in any way opposed to the curriculum we can buy at a local bookstore, but how often do we miss the moment someone is living because we want to talk about something else? Jesus’ plan for discipleship allowed life to bring the content. When they passed by a sower, He used the sower as a teaching prop. When children were encircling them, He talked about children. When the demonic raged at Him, He chose that moment to teach on spiritual warfare. Jesus knew His disciples and He knew the moments they were facing, so He gave them what they needed when they needed it.
That probably means that disciple-making requires two parts listening for every one part of teaching. Yes, there’s room for large lecture settings where the instructor’s specialty forms the content. But real discipleship must connect more closely with the moments being lived.
So, how do your current discipling efforts give room for such current reality? Do the people you teach or lead know your life? Is a curriculum book currently dominating you or have you chosen to use it as a tool for your own making-disciples assignment?
Never forget the Apostle Paul’s interesting words, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” It may be the best description of what making disciples truly looks like. Next time, we’ll shift toward the settings of discipleship and consider the “where” side of our question.