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May 2014

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Three components of effective discipleship

Written by , Posted in Your Church

I like simple definitions. The word discipleship may strike you as daunting, but it’s really quite simple.

Discipleship: Helping someone know God or grow in God. 

Jesus commanded us to make disciples (Matthew 28), which includes baptizing people (leading them to know God) and teaching them (helping them grow in God). Simple, right?

If you’re looking for an example of discipleship, make friends with Acts 18. Priscilla and Aquila hear Apollos, a brilliant, eloquent follower of Jesus. His knowledge of the Scriptures lent him the ears of even the sharpest of Jewish leaders. But he had one flaw: he did not yet understand the baptism of Jesus, which was for both the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Priscilla and Aquila don’t berate him or ignore him. Either response could have been devastating. Instead, they invite him to their home and “explain the way of God more adequately to him.” Beautiful!

Priscilla and Aquila demonstrate three components of effective discipleship:

1.  Discipleship is relational.

Books and online sermons can disciple you some, but only some. Books don’t give hugs. Online sermons don’t celebrate your victories or challenge your missteps. The Bible, church history and personal experience teach us that effective discipleship comes wrapped in relationships.

Relational discipleship is inconvenient sometimes. Is inconvenience preventing you from discipling someone else?

I recently had lunch with someone far ahead of me in life experience and faith. I’ve known and trusted him for a long time. I said, “I need someone like you to challenge me, encourage me, push me and help me spiritually grow. Will you?” He agreed. He even told me that I was never allowed to wonder if I was inconveniencing him.

You can ask someone too.

And if you desire to disciple someone else, make it relational.

2.  Discipleship is instructional.

I imagine once the dinner was complete, Priscilla and Aquila said, “Our brother, can we talk about doctrine for a bit? We have great news that you need to know and teach.” And then, they instructed him.

Apollos was a brilliant guy. This means that Priscilla and Aquila could dance with the theological heavyweights. They were capable of sitting in chair number three, the third stage of discipleship. They could spiritually feed others.

See “The Stages of Discipleship.”

Maybe you feel like a biblical lightweight. Truth be told, we all should feel like that. So don’t fret it. God comes to you in grace and then prompts you to move forward. What can you do today to grow in your ability to instruct someone else in the way of the Lord? How can you take a baby step?

3.  Discipleship is intentional.

Everything Priscilla and Aquila did was intentional. They had a clear purpose. They listened intently; they invited; they instructed; they even wrote a letter (verse 27) in order to prepare the church in Achaia for his arrival. Discipleship doesn’t happen by accident. It’s intentional.

How are you intentionally discipling others?

The last verses of Acts 18 say that Apollos was a great help to the believers, and “vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah.”

Effective discipleship multiplies the influence of God in your life. I’m so grateful for the beautiful example from Acts 18.

 

You might also like:

Matthew 28 Project

Stages of Discipleship

3 Misconceptions about discipleship

Sermon audio from Acts 18 sermon (and hear the story of how my friend from a foreign land tackles inconveniences.)

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