Discipleship – Beyond Conversion

Every now and then I return to thinking about Jesus’ instruction to his followers to go and make disciples.

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.
Matthew 28:19,20.

The fact that He did NOT say make ‘converts’ is an important aspect of these two verses. Conversion is the essential stage in becoming a disciple but that is only the ‘Event’ that starts a person on the road, indeed life, of discipleship. When people of Jesus time heard the word disciple they understood it in the context of that time. The Jewish Rabbis (teachers) had disciples and the goal of the disciple was to become like the teacher,

So when Jesus said “go and make disciples” people would have understood disciple as someone who was becoming like Him, and so should we. Many Evangelism programs stop at ‘making converts’ like scoring ‘notches on a gun belt’ whereas the new Christian must be helped on the road of discipleship which is a post conversion process not an event.

This is the area where the western church has become increasingly weak.
So the purpose of the new gospel communities that are the aim of the Unbounded Church concept, of whatever size, place and style, is not to bring Contacts just to the point of conversion, so important though that is, and then stop but to disciple them. This Jesus put in terms of teaching them to obey everything he had commanded.

There are four main dimensions to discipling.

1) To explain the gospel.

i) The human problem of sin and separation from God. (Genesis 3)
ii) The solution to that problem in Jesus and his death to remove our sin.
iii) The offer of ‘Adoption’ as a child of God. (Ephesians 1:5)                                iv) What a person needs to do to receive the benefits of the Cross and eternal life.

2) Teaching them to obey (through bible study) everything Jesus taught. The study of the Bible is the primary way God spiritually feeds His people.

3) To equip them for service. (Ephesians 4:11,12). That is to help them to discern and develop their spiritual gifts so they can pay their God-ordained role as an organ in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). This will include providing the necessary training.

4) To model discipleship. That is to do as I do not just as I say. As the Jewish Rabbis were role models to be copied by their disciples so should Christian disciplers be.

The Missional Community should be the place where new disciples are nurtured in faith. This should happen as they see the lifestyle modelled by more mature members of the group, both in what they say and in their activities, including missional activities.

                                                                       ________________

Discipleship – Simple Tools

There is a range of simple tools that may be helpful as we seek to Disciple new members of Missional Communities. We intend to include these here over time.

1. Steps to Becoming a Christian – ARBAR

This is a brief outline of the stages of the journey to Christ a person must travel. How and at what rate will vary with individuals. This tool can help them on that journey. It may be given as a handout o,r better, it may be used to talk them through and explain the journey.

It may also be used as an outline to lead the person being discipled through a prayer of commitment should they find this helpful.

Acknowledge our Sin-

That is that we have breached God’s laws in what we think, say or do.     

          “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (standard)” Romans 3:23

Repent

– Meaning not just to say sorry, but ask for God’s forgiveness-AND ask Him to help us turn away from our old life and live in a new way    pleasing to God with His help.

        “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of           Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift          of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:31

 

Believe

‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”  Acts 16:31

That is to put our Trust in Jesus alone for our eternal life which is a newQuality’ of life with God for eternity, which is received as a Gift

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8,9

‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”  Acts 16:31

That is to put our Trust in Jesus alone for our eternal life which is a newQuality’ of life with God for eternity, which is received as a Gift

 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8,9

Ask

Jesus into our life, to pay the penalty for our sin that we should pay, and wipe all our sins (past present and future) from the record.

       ‘As far as the East is from the West

                   So far has he removed our sins from us’ – Psalm 103:12

Receive the Holy Spirit-

Who gives us a spiritual rebirth so that we are born again as a new child of God and will guide us on our spiritual journey.

  “Unless you are born again you cannot enter the Kingdom of God”

                           John 3:3“You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2:38

2. Inductive Bible Study

 An essential component of the Discipling process is “teaching everything” Jesus taught in order for it to be obeyed – i.e. the Bible. (Matthew 28:19).

One relatively easy way to do this, particularly with a ‘not yet’ or new disciple i.e. someone who has little or no Bible knowledge, is to use an Inductive Bible Study (IBS) method. This has three basic stages-

i) The text is read and the group of ‘not yet’ or new disciples ‘explores’ it in order to to ‘induce’ the original meaning from an examination of the words and phrases of the passage being studied.

ii) The group seeks to discern the specific principle or principles being taught by the passage.

iii) Discussion then takes place as to how that specific principle can be brought forward to our time so that it can be applied to the lives of individuals and society today.

Note- This approach can be slightly different to what is often called a ‘Discovery Bible Study’ (DBS). This difference is that there is a requirement for the group to be overseen by someone who has sufficient biblical knowledge to be able to provide the ‘checks and balances’ needed to prevent significant error, as Paul did with his letters and visits to the fledgling NT churches.

Experience shows that sometimes in a DBS without such oversight the only ‘discovery’ made is that of error. There is a good reason that one of the gifts that God supplies in His church, of whatever shape and form, is that of ‘Teacher’ – Ephesians 4:11,12.    

A Simple IBS Outline

First have the passage to be studied read well. If less well educated or English as a second language people are present it might be better to use a simple Bible translation – (e.g. CEV/GNB).

But do bear in mind that such translations, because they use a limited vocabulary, sometimes lose some shades of meaning which might be important. It may sometimes be necessary for the group overseer to teach important details.

Questions

  • Is there anything you particularly notice about the passage?
  • Are there words or phrases that you don’t understand?’
  • What is the main principle being taught in the passage?
  • How can we apply that principle to our own situation and the community in which we live?’