To be a follower of Christ, you need to be taught since the word “disciple” comes from the same Latin root as the word “discipline” and indicates a student learning in a structured setting.
So who is discipling you?
When I ask that question to people, too many answer, “No one.” Some answer, “I guess my pastor when I hear his sermons. ” If you think sermons are the primary form of disciple-making, then you’ve missed it. A few of Jesus’ sermons are given in the Bible but many more of his teachings in the moments of life are provided for us in the Word of God. In other words, Jesus was teaching (or discipling!) in the moment and helping His disciples to take biblical principles and apply them to their lives.
A few weeks ago, I dropped by the Celebrate Recovery program for 15 minutes on my way home from a long day of work (8 am to 7 pm and needing to do more work when I got home). So I didn’t stay long. But while I was there, 3 people asked me if I could meet with them for counseling. 2 of those teared up! 2 more people that I did counsel at one time shared with me that they were now “doing good” and each told me a story to back up that assertion. 2 other people said they would be taking my biblical counseling course that starts in 2 weeks so that they can learn how to use the Bible to help others! This was all in 15 minutes!
I promise you that if I opened up 50 slots for counseling next week, I would have them all full and a waiting list if I made it public news that I had 50 open sessions. My point is that the need is great and most people need more than just a sermon from their pastor on Sunday morning.
So who is discipling you? Who is being like Jesus and teaching you what the Word of God says and how you must obey it in your own personal life? Who? Who is shepherding you?
I wish I could say that small groups alone are sufficient for disciple-making but they are not. Small groups are a vital part of the Christian life as is preaching/teaching of the Word, but the personal ministry of disciple-making is an essential third element of being a disciple. I call it “personal ministry” but it is also called “biblical counseling” or “disciple-making.”
If you are not in a relationship like that today, then I urge you to call your pastor or a respected elder or deacon in your church to set it up. If no one will spend time with you in that way, then call our ministry. Our volunteers are waiting and willing to help you.
We take seriously the passage in I Peter 5:1-5 given to warn elders to be shepherds of God’s flock. And we take seriously the passage in the Bible in Matthew 28:18-20 to “go and make disciples of all nations”. We believe it is done through personal ministry, small groups, and preaching/teaching of the Word (called sermons sometimes, too).
-Mark (personal ministry takes time and is not glamorous but it is what Jesus did numerous times in the Gospels)