The Greek word disciple means “student” or “learner.” In New Testament times, a disciple entered into a master-apprentice relationship with his teacher. A disciple’s hope was to acquire his mentor’s wisdom and skills, and to imitate his life. The
leader’s expectation was that, once trained, his disciple would repeat the process.
Jesus began his public ministry by urging people to “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, NASB). He then called those who were responsive to his message to become his devoted followers. Approaching some simple fishermen, he said, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17, NASB).
Depending on where you are in the world, following Christ may be as simple as gathering in a local town hall or as difficult as meeting under the cover of night in someone’s home. However, there are several challenges that are universal when it comes to discipleship however. Let’s see what it takes to effectively lead others into a deeper relationship with Christ…
The 5 Most Important Challenges of Discipleship
1. Be Committed.
The old saying is true: You get out what you put in. Show up. When you miss a group meeting, others can’t benefit from what God is teaching you. But don’t just attend. Merely showing up to meetings doesn’t lead to growing up in the faith. Study. Ponder. Wrestle. Then come prepared to participate.
2. Be Authentic.
It’s always tempting to try to make ourselves look better—more spiritual, more solid, etc.—than we really are. But no one benefits from that kind of dishonesty. You don’t need to share your deepest secrets, but be a truthteller even when the truth is hard or ugly. Often one member’s transparency and vulnerability can set the tone for an entire group. Be that person!
3. Be Trustworthy.
Help make the group a safe place. Adapt the “Vegas philosophy”: What’s said in the group stays in the group. Don’t blab the secrets of others. There’s no quicker way to kill a group.
4. Be Realistic.
Groups aren’t heaven on earth. You won’t “click” with everyone. Some nights the discussions will drag—or you’ll come away with more questions than you had when you showed up. That’s okay. Remember discipleship is a lifelong process, not an eight- or thirty-week program. Hang in there. Long journeys take a lot of little steps.
5. Be Prayerful.
Jesus said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Without the presence of Christ, your group will be a mere meeting. But if, in a spirit of faith and surrender, you summon and submit to the infinite power of God, who knows what might happen?
This article is an excerpt from the upcoming Rose Guide to Discipleship by Len Woods.
Enjoy having this easy-to-understand discipleship guide packed with 30 ready-to-use lessons on 30 discipleship topics: Becoming more like Jesus, salvation, forgiveness, prayer, trusting God, how to study the Bible, and other spiritual growth topics! Whether you’re a new Christian or a seasoned believer, this guide includes overviews of key topics to dive into for a lifetime.