CONTAINERS OF DISCIPLESHIP
Apostolic Team Leader
Discipleship is such a large and expansive subject that breaking it down into bite-sized portions or identifying key elements can be very helpful. As I look across the body of Christ, it seems to me that most churches tend to focus on the aspects that they value as a result of their own experience or the ones that they themselves have a higher comfort level and gifting in. As an example, one church could focus on character development, using personal accountability as the touchpoint. Another church would use the classroom, emphasizing doctrinal understanding. Another church may drill down on practical ministry, leadership, small groups, or leading various ministries.
Unfortunately, the one aspect that somehow seems to be neglected the most is evangelism. All of these are legitimate and necessary parts of the discipleship process. Rather than divide discipleship into detailed subject matter, dividing it into processes or containers should be more effective.
For example, if you’re building a house, you have excavation and foundation. Then you have framing and roofing. Then you have electrical, etc. Each of those are separate, but necessary, components. When you start to build the house, you are not identifying how many 2x4’s you need. You are not counting how many switchplate covers you will need. First, you design the house and a floor plan. They help you determine all the details. The roofer is not concerned about how many plugs and outlets you are going to need. The electrician doesn’t care about your color choices.
I think if we would approach discipleship the same way, the process would not overwhelm us with details.
Each new believer or immature believer can experience and benefit from four simple cornerstones that all the ongoing details can be applied to:
One-on-one face time
Be brought into a team
Practical ministry experience
What and how you pour into and execute these areas may look different than how others do it. Your house may look different, but it will have the essentials, like a kitchen and a bathroom. As an example, teaching them how to pray and hear from God could be done in any of the four categories. That’s your design, but that part can’t be left out.
Ask yourself: Do we have these four categories? Is there a clear process?
This is probably more efficient and less overwhelming than figuring out how many total nails will we need. Each category will take care of the nails they need! Once we establish the process, we can be more specific about what is happening at each stage. We can then adjust what we are doing in each container, without scrapping the plan and bringing everything to a grinding halt. It also makes the process very easy to follow for new believers.
Years ago, a great guy in our church had a prosperous window cleaning company. Because he had earned people’s trust, they started asking him to do painting and other house maintenance. To do that would take away from his growing window business, and to turn it down would leave money on the table, as well as potential for customer allegiance and growth. I coached him a little about becoming a contractor and not just a window cleaner. Years later, the painting business became the main economic source of his business.
Let’s be contractors. Identify the areas I’ve mentioned here or other ones. And let’s put people to work. Let’s stop fretting about switches and plugs and have a plan to build.