In this post, Aubrey beautifully discusses how to seek out discipleship relationships. She helpfully describes the beauty of these relationships and the importance of identifying them within the local church. If you haven't already read it, check it out!
As Jesus ascended into heaven, He told his followers to "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:18-20 CSB). This command applies to His followers today, but do you feel equipped to do this? If a younger gal at church asked you to disciple her, do you feel confident in what you would do next or equipped to have the first conversation? The following "how-to" is for the first few discussions within a discipleship relationship. While there can be flexibility in approach, these are helpful topics to discuss at the beginning of your discipleship relationship:
- Define terms, and establish expectations.
Ask your disciple about her view of discipleship. Has she ever been discipled before? What are her expectations for what the time together will look like? After she shares about her past discipleship relationships, you can cast a vision for what your time together will look like. For example, you might share that the goal of discipleship is three-fold: imitation, information, and maturation:
- Imitation: For a discipleship relationship to proceed, your disciple has expressed that there is something in your life that she admires and wants to imitate. This doesn't mean that she must copy every decision you make but, rather, that she respects your wisdom and advice as an older woman in the faith. Your desire is to share your life and wisdom with her and teach her what you've learned about God.
- Information: During a discipleship relationship, information is exchanged and discussed. Perhaps you decide to read a book together and talk about it. Maybe you will go through a book of the Bible together. This information will be suited to the unique struggles and/or desired growth areas in her life.
- Maturation: Your goal in discipleship is to help your disciple mature in the image of Christ. While you as the discipler can be open about your life as you model transparency, this is primarily a time for her growth and accountability more than yours. Let her know that you are there for her.
2. Together, read Titus 2, and discuss the role of older women teaching younger women. Establish expectations for when you will meet–how often, what homework will look like, etc. If you're uncertain how often to meet, start with every other week at the same time of day.
3. Discuss any reservations she may have toward opening her life up to another person. These reservations might include past church hurts, uncertainty about what discipleship means, or other relational baggage. It's good to have honest communication from the beginning, assuring her that you will not gossip about her or share confidential details of her life.
4. Ask about her testimony. Listen well, and ask follow-up questions if anything is unclear. Don't interrupt her or correct her as she shares her story, but instead listen and love well.
5. Ask for three areas in which she wants to grow. If you have a book in mind, you can suggest it, or think about ideas afterward. Ask what she has read recently in order to understand what she has been learning and where she is in her spiritual life.
6. Pick the next time you're going to meet, and put it on the calendar. Make a plan for your next gathering. During a discipleship meeting, I usually spend the first hour asking questions about her week and talking through any questions she has, and we spend the last thirty minutes discussing the content of whatever book we are studying together.
7. Pray for her. Pray for her as you meet, as well as throughout the week.
8. Plan semi-regular check-ins. For example, every six to twelve months, have a conversation about how the relationship is going. Ask what has been working well and what hasn't. Ask if there's anything she would like to change and if she would like to continue for another six to twelve months. Release valves are important in relationships, and we want to make sure that our disciples have the opportunity to share concerns and not build up any kind of bitterness.
It's a joy to be able to disciple someone. As we pour our lives into another, we honor Christ who poured out His life for us.