Every Tuesday night for dinner, Nancy and I met for our discipleship time.
She was a teacher in the town I lived in and we had met at church. When I first met Nancy I could tell she was struggling in her relationship with God. We talked at length one night about several issues that were bothering her. She wasn’t sure she was a Christian, not sure why she was often downcast and without joy, and really not sure how the Bible applied to her life.
“Nancy, are you up for meeting each Tuesday night for dinner together?” I asked her one day. “I would love to help you and disciple you in each of these areas.”
She agreed and over the next 2 years God did a powerful work in her life as we looked at each issue together, studied the Bible and prayed. She grew deeper in her relationship with God, her understanding of the Holy Spirit and scripture.
My example is just one way to invite someone into a discipleship relationship. There are more, though, that you can consider:
“I have a book that I think you would greatly benefit from. It outlines basic foundational lessons for growth in Christ. I would love to meet weekly with you to go through it – would you have time for that?”
“You seem to have a lot of questions about God and the Bible and I can tell you are eager to learn. I would love to meet with you on a more regular basis, perhaps once a week (or every other week) so I can answer your questions and guide you in how to deepen your relationship with God. Can you meet for coffee on Thursdays?”
When you meet with a disciple, show up with a plan. Think through these 5 elements of a discipleship appointment to help you be intentional about your time together.
- Small Talk – This is a time to catch up on life, kids, work, etc. Don’t neglect this part to jump right into spiritual items. Use this time to gauge how your disciple is doing, and get to know him/her better.
- Accountability – What would your disciple like to move forward in? Is he wanting to memorize scripture, eat healthy, pay off debt? Is she wanting to challenge another person to discipleship, stop yelling so much at her kids, or develop better study habits? Also share your areas of need. In future appointments, ask each other about the issues to encourage each one another.
- Content – Starting with basic material is best with a new disciple regardless of how long they may have been a Christian. They will eventually disciple another person so choose material to cover with that in mind. Foundational topics such as the love of God, Jesus is the way to salvation, the role of the Holy Spirit, how to pray and how to study the Bible are a few good places to start.
- Prayer – Always reserve a time to pray to God. You can pray for items that may have come up during the small talk and accountability time. Pray for what you may have observed as you looked at scripture together. Perhaps you studied James chapter 1 and read that when we need wisdom for our lives and decisions we can ask God for it (James 1:5). Ask for wisdom in prayer.
- Outreach – This element of the discipleship appointment may not happen each time. This is where you could invite another person who has questions about Jesus to part of your meeting together. This person may have recently visited your church, Bible study or small group. It could be a co-worker that needs help spiritually. Your disciple will learn more by observing you navigate another person’s questions or watching you share the gospel message in a real-life scenario than from hours of instruction.
Whether you do dinner every Tuesday night, coffee on Monday afternoons, or lunch at the office, make time to meet with another person for discipleship. You never know how the investment you make now can have a big impact later.
Nancy went on to get married, become a prayer counselor at her church and, when we talked last, she and her husband were each reading through the Bible in a year.