In our modern process-oriented, post-post-industrial age in which microwaves churn out meals in 2 minutes or less, it is easy to think that discipleship can be done in a classroom simply by filling in blanks or by transferring some kind of theological knowledge to another person. While there is a process to discipleship, it is more than a 13-week course or a concentrated 40-day period working through curriculum.
Not “Just for Beginners”
Discipleship is often seen as something for newbies to get introduced to principals of Christian living. Not seen as something for more “mature” believers, this perspective sees discipleship simply as a Christianity 101 course. Discipleship is considered too rudimentary an activity because true “maturity” is found in other pursuits.
Not “Just for Leaders”
This perspective on discipleship may seem pious on the surface. Essentially, it assumes that only “super-Christians” are responsible for discipleship – whether it be learning or listening. The thought is “If I am not an elder, deacon, committee member, etc. then pursuing maturity in the Christian life is not for me.”
In his book The Soul Winner, Spurgeon says, “We do not regard it to be soul-winning to steal members out of churches already established, and train them to utter our peculiar Shibboleth: we aim rather at bringing souls to Christ than at making converts to our synagogue.” While he wrote this in regarding to winning souls and not discipleship per se, the general principal still applies. Discipleship is not simply convincing someone else of our particular theological positions or opinions.
Not Measured by Numbers
Again Spurgeon writes, “In the next place, we do not consider soul-winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year.” Discipleship is not simply adding names to the bottom line. Moreover, it is not simply the accumulation of verses committed to memory or even books of the Bible read. Oftentimes, the fruits of discipleship are not even quantifiable but are like “The wind blowing wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”
Not Creating Excitement
Finally, Spurgeon says, “It very often happens that the converts that are born in excitement die when the excitement is over. They are like certain insects which are the product of an exceedingly warm day, and die when the sun goes down.” Discipleship is often unexciting and mundane. The ministry of growing and living with others is often fraught with difficulty, a lack of thankfulness and recognition. Yet in my experience, it is in these often normal, boring moments in life in which I find myself most reachable and teachable. It is not the exciting but the dull in which roots are cultivated and nurtured.
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it has helped me rethink my perspective on what the Great Commission is, the principals the LORD has laid out for His Church to be prepared for Jesus’ great appearing and the value of relationships as we grow together to “comprehend with the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”