Making Disciples Personally
This is Post #6 of the Sacred Roads: Tools for the Tour Guides blog series. Sacred Roads is a new curriculum published by Threads that helps participants explore and experiment with Biblical and historical expressions of discipleship. The Sacred Roads small group curriculum and leader kits are available at threadsmedia.com.
This blog series provides tips and ideas for discipleship pastors and small group leaders who are charged with facilitating the discipleship process for others.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the emphasis on the idea of personal conversion and the encouragement to establish a personal relationship with Christ propelled a shift to a personal approach to discipleship.
Within the framework of the personal approach to discipleship, the church moved from a state institution to small fellowships of people who had experienced a personal conversion to Christ. The church provided people with personal growth resources and taught them how to develop a relationship with God, and people grew in their knowledge and relationship with God through personal discipline and time alone with God. This article provides some ideas for incorporating personal methods of discipleship in the environments you lead.
Develop a Rule of Life
Before guiding others into spiritual disciplines, make sure you are practicing them yourself. It's a lot easier to teach about them than to actually do them. I would encourage taking a tip from the leadership of St. Benedict and developing a rule of life-- a pattern for practicing spiritual disciplines. It's about finding rhythms and practices that help you grow in your relationship of Christ and imitation of him. Set goals that are specific and measurable and are bound to a specific period of time.
Establish a Rule of Life for Your Community
After you've experienced the rule of life for yourself, establish a rule of life for your small group, Sunday School class, or ministry. Allow all participants to be a part of the development process and ask them to covenant together to observe it for a specific period of time. It's a lot easier to practice spiritual disciplines regularly and consistently when you are doing them together.
Call for Prayer and Fasting
Spiritual disciplines work best when there is a specific goal or purpose fueling them. Maybe it's to pray for a specific need in the world or community. Maybe it's a fast to give lunch money to a local soup kitchen. Maybe it's to start the the practice of some new disciplines or to re-engage some old ones at the start of a new season. Be like the Old Testament prophet Joel and ask the people you lead to enter into a time of prayer and fasting at the beginning of the year, at the start of a new school semester, before a missions team departs, etc. Be creative about ways to incorporate personal disciplines into the regular, every day life of the church.
Most of us on this blog are Protestant. And I believe it's to our great disadvantage that many of us threw a few proverbial babies out with the bathwater during the Reformation. Lent might be one of those things we need to dig out of the trash heap. Too often, we miss the true joy and celebration of Easter because we have not adequately prepared our hearts for it. We have not walked through a time of transformation and reflection and therefore are not as grateful as perhaps we should be. I believe that Easter will be more meaningful and more worshipful if we observe Lent in some way.
Incorporate Disciplines Into Worship
Find creative ways to incorporate personal times of practicing spiritual disciplines in retreat settings and worship services. Give people five minutes to meditate on Scripture before you preach on it. Set up prayer stations where people can go to pray for specific needs. Schedule a retreat that minimizes presentation and maximizes practice.
What are some ways you have practiced or would like to explore personal roads of discipleship?