Anyone who knows me knows I am all about radically responding to the needs of those around me. Helping build a home a long the border in South Texas; repairing a home of a working poor family in the midst of affluent neighbors in Lake Travis; meeting the need of a homeless person; defending the orphan, even adopting a child; supporting and serving alongside those on the foreign mission field—these are all ways I have responded.
However I can fool myself into believing that I have discipled others through these actions. They are a good first step, but they don’t necessarily disciple anyone. The challenge with this list is that for most of the activities my time spent with people is/was brief, a few days at a time at best.
Now I am not saying I will stop doing these things, but when we think that these brief interactions focused on meeting a need accomplishes the mission, we miss the mark.
We perpetuate this when we over celebrate how many needs we are meeting and use head counting evangelistic tactics. This results in a “dive bomber” mentality. Get in there, do the deed, and get out! Then let’s make a video of all the great work we are doing!
People become projects and numbers tallied in a spreadsheet as if an investor wants to see bottom line results to validate the return on his investment. Granted we plant seeds and open doors for others to follow and disciple. The question is—who is coming along behind us to do that?
So what is the most effective way to disciple?
Shift the focus from the deed to the person and invest in relationship.
I like how Jill Roberts says it in this blog found on Glocal.net:
That’s it! Discipleship happens when transformation happens. I agree with Jill—this takes time and investment. It takes a willingness to live life alongside someone.
God gives us a practical, common sense way to disciple someone when he told us how to teach our children about His ways:
That’s what it looks like to live life alongside someone. This kind of discipleship allows for natural conversations within the rhythm of life.
As I live life with others, I learn the needs of their heart as Jill Roberts suggests. When I learn of these needs, I can talk of God’s ways. And His ways transforms lives.
That, I believe, is the most effective way to disciple.
If you are a Christ follower, how were you discipled? If you are not a Christ follower, how would you prefer someone share about God with you?