Making Disciples Relationally
This is Post #3 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.
Before buildings, Christian Life Centers, and Lifeway bookstores, followers of Jesus made disciples relationally. In homes, in catacombs, and on the road, people grew closer to Christ as they grew closer to one another. As you strive to make disciples relationally in your context, consider doing the following:
Did you know that there are over 30 commands in the New Testament that cannot be obeyed outside the context of relationship? They are the "one another" commands and they instruct us on relating to one another well. Love one another, serve one another, honor one another, confess to one another, forgive one another, encourage one another...
If we want to make disciples relationally, then we must first ensure that we are one-anothering well. Are we relating to other people in healthy, Biblical ways? Are we making sure that we are in growing, accountable relationships with other people? Take some time to go through the New Testament and write down the one another commands that you see. Then reference it once a year to check the alignment of your heart and relationships with Scripture.
Lead a Small Group
Sometimes, pastors don't lead groups because they are leading leaders. I think it's a good idea to get back in the trenches every now and then. At NCC, we operate on a tri-mester system, and I try to lead small groups for two of the three semesters each year. Many of you reading this probably already lead a small group, but if you don't, think about leading one this year.
Invest in a Few
Find three or four people to invest your life into for a season and teach them what you know by doing life with them. It doesn't have to be an awkward weekly meeting where you talk through a book together. That can work (minus the awkward part), but I've found that the best discipleship happens in our every day walking around lives-- in the car on a road trip, on a mountain while hiking, in a mall while shopping. Who are the few people that you, as a leader, are intentionally investing in? And are you expecting them to turn around and do the same for others?
Wear Out Your Welcome
I've already written about this quite a bit here and here. Invite people into your home until your doormat is shredded and the"welcome" is faded. Invite large groups of people who have common interests who need to connect. Invite small groups of people who might benefit from knowing each other. Make your home an Emmaus- a place where people can come face to face with Jesus even if they don't recognize him a first. Discipleship happens when you put food on a table and invite them into it. Consider incorporating communion into the meal and turn it into a first century Love Feast.
Validate Community Where It Is
One final idea-- validate community where you see it. At NCC, we don't have a huge list of requirements for small group qualification. If you connect together regularly and one of your purposes for connecting is to help people grow closer to Christ, you can be a small group. Too often, we church people devise very specific sets of criteria for what a small group is, and then we tell our people "Community is important, so you need to come to one of these groups." But really, we have just thrown another time commitment into the rotation of activities that are already crowding our bulging schedules. Why not look at where community already exists and call it valid?
Hopefully, these are some ideas that will help you facilitate relational discipleship, but the opportunities are endless. What are some other ways we can make disciples relationally?