4 Stages of Discipleship
1. Large Group Teachings - Sundays at Church
On any given Sunday, churches worldwide gather for large group teachings, seeking spiritual nourishment and communal worship. These gatherings serve as a cornerstone of our faith journey. However, they are just the beginning, the entry point into the transformative world of discipleship.
2. Small Group Teachings - Getting Out of Rows and Into Circles
As important as large group teachings are, they alone cannot provide the depth and intimacy required for spiritual growth. To go deeper, we need to transition from rows into circles. Small group teachings, such as joining a life group or serving on a church team, offer a space for meaningful connections, accountability, and shared spiritual experiences. In these circles, lives are transformed, friendships are forged, and faith is cultivated.
3. 1-on-1 Mentorship
While small groups offer a sense of community, there's a unique power in one-on-one mentorship. Discipleship flourishes when experienced personally. Mentors guide, inspire, and share their wisdom, allowing individuals to grow in their faith, gain insights, and deepen their relationship with Christ.
4. Intentional and Gradual Commissioning - Reproducing Disciples
Discipleship isn't just about personal growth; it's about replication. The heart of discipleship lies in the intentional and gradual commissioning of believers to reproduce themselves in others. This process involves nurturing and equipping individuals to become mentors themselves, ensuring that the cycle of spiritual growth continues indefinitely.
The Cost of Discipleship: Becoming Christ-Like
As we delve deeper into the realm of discipleship, it's essential to recognize that it comes with a cost. To become true followers of Christ, we must be willing to pay the price. This cost involves aligning our lives with the example set by Jesus, striving to become more Christ-like in our thoughts, words, and actions. Loving Christ more than anything else becomes our guiding principle, and our journey toward discipleship carries a sense of sacred purpose.
The Conflict Within: Embracing the Battle
Discipleship isn't a passive process; it's a battle. It's a battle against our own desires, worldly distractions, and the forces that seek to pull us away from our spiritual journey. Just as any endeavor worth pursuing involves challenges, discipleship presents its own set of conflicts. Yet, it's in this battle that our faith is tested, refined, and ultimately strengthened.
Two Things That Always Cost More Than Anticipated
In our pursuit of discipleship, we encounter two truths that mirror life's unpredictability:
1. Building Will Cost More Than You Anticipate: Just as constructing a physical building often involves unforeseen expenses, nurturing disciples can be more demanding than we initially realize. It calls for dedication, time, patience, and a willingness to invest in the lives of others. The process requires sacrifice but yields immeasurable rewards.
2. The Battle Will Be Harder Than You Anticipate: The conflicts and challenges on the path of discipleship may be more formidable than expected. Spiritual growth isn't always a smooth journey, and it can be marked by doubts, trials, and moments of weakness. However, it's precisely through these trials that we experience spiritual transformation.
A Discipleship Model
To truly thrive in discipleship, we need a well-defined model that guides our efforts and fosters a culture of intentional growth. This model should encompass large group teachings, small group interactions, one-on-one mentorship, and the commissioning of disciples to become mentors themselves. It forms the backbone of our efforts to build people, to nurture souls, and to develop true followers of Christ.
In a world that often values external success and material gains, we must redirect our focus toward the profound importance of discipleship. It's not merely about constructing impressive church buildings or accumulating numbers; it's about building lives, one soul at a time.
Discipleship calls for a willingness to pay the price of becoming Christ-like and embracing the inevitable conflicts along the way. It's a transformative journey that costs more and demands more than we may anticipate, but it's a journey that yields spiritual richness and eternal significance. Let us embrace the call to build people, investing in the growth of disciples who will, in turn, carry forward the message of Christ's love and grace to the world.
Heavenly Father, we come before you with hearts filled with gratitude for the profound message of discipleship. As we seek to build lives, transform souls, and nurture spiritual growth, we humbly ask for your guidance and strength. Grant us the wisdom to follow the path of discipleship with unwavering dedication, understanding that it may come with a cost and a battle. May your grace sustain us through every challenge, and may we be empowered to make disciples who carry your love and truth into the world. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.