The Great Commission's Keys to Biblical Discipleship
By Bible Engagement Project Web Team | Posted In Ministry Tools
At the core of discipleship is the individual disciple. One of Jesus’ last commands (Matthew 28:19) to His disciples was an imperative to the first-century church and to us as well. To make disciples, inviting others to seek and serve the Jesus we follow, we need to first be disciples ourselves. A disciple is a lifelong follower and learner of Jesus Christ. Discipleship is the cyclical act of consistently developing disciples into disciple-makers through intentional spiritual formation.
The two key components of discipleship are transformation and reproduction, and they happen best in community. This is why the Bible Engagement Project curriculum small group sections titled Listen on Your Own and Listen in Community (coming August 2021: Learn on Your Own and Learn in Community) are so important. The “on Your Own” section ensures transformation is taking place as we are listening to what God is saying to us, and the “in Community” section ensures reproduction is occurring through disciple-making.
However, reproduction or disciple-making extends past small group time or a Sunday morning. Disciple-making should extend to those we interact with on a daily basis. Who is involved in your everyday life? Who are you interacting with regularly? Who is a part of your community?
These questions can guide you to discovering your discipleship relationships. As others invest in you, find people you can invest in, walk with through Scripture, and journey with through life’s challenges. Be willing to engage in mutual accountability as a necessary component of discipleship; have a teachable spirit. Additionally, discipleship takes time. Consider the time investment and make room in your heart and schedule for this Jesus-inspired and commanded task.
For many people, family is the primary unit they interact with on a daily basis. As Chap Bettis states in his book The Disciple-Making Parent, “Parenting is a commission to do all we can to raise our children to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.” He writes that the foundational parenting text is Matthew 28:18–20. The goal of parenting is not to produce children who are educated, have good jobs, and make us happy (again, all good things), but rather to develop adults who will serve Christ.
Relationship is foundational to discipleship and the family unit, regardless of household makeup, and is the perfect place to start. A parent or guardian is the closest relationship a child has; there is no better person to disciple children than a parent or guardian!
Some parents and guardians feel underqualified or think the church can disciple their children better, but Jesus commanded us to do it! If He has blessed you with children, rely on Him to give you what you need. Bettis says that the end of the day, “no one can take the place of Mom or Dad [Guardian] building spiritual truths into the lives of their children.” If there are children or youth in your church who do not have Jesus-following parents, consider spiritually adopting them. Those who have older children or who do not have children at all, consider pairing them with kids who need a discipleship relationship. This is a great place for intergenerational discipleship to occur.
Bible Engagement Project curriculum was not designed to simply increase adults’ engagement with the Bible, but with the whole family! This is why the curriculum includes four family devotions for each session that everyone can do together. Because this is age-aligned curriculum, family devotions relate to the passage of Scripture and theme everyone experienced that week during children’s church, youth group, or small group. These devotions are a great tool to help parents or guardians disciple their children.
As a leader, you will observe that families in your church vary in their engagement with the Bible and family devotions. The curriculum works for those who already engage in family devotions and those who are brand-new to the experience. Encourage attainable goals for those who are newer to incorporating family devotions and celebrate small wins. If a family is engaging with the Bible together once a week for the first time, that is a huge accomplishment! As they grow in their faith, greater engagement and resulting transformation will occur.
Chap Bettis, The Disciple-Making Parent (Diamond Hill Publishing: n.p., 2016), 6, 16.