Personal and Natural Discipleship
Many discipleship structures in churches today are often left to the Sunday schools or cell groups. As such, they are often run as programs based on certain curriculum. While these programmatic discipleship and curriculum-based discipleship has its strength, especially when they can provide a clear overview of what the key areas to be addressed are, however they are not sufficient to build a strong disciple. Of course, it would help us much if the disciple is self-motivated and self-disciplined. But we usually have to build a person up from scratch. There two important aspects that I want to highlight.
The first aspect is that discipleship has to be personal. We can see this example clearly in the lives of Jesus. Though the disciples often move in groups, Jesus made the effort to interact with disciples personally. He dealt with the preassumptions and preoccupations of each disciple personally even though teachings were taught to the disciples together. Perhaps this is a good model to follow. While it is important for the disciples to undergo some form of training in groups or in classes, most of the things are being internalised when they are discipled personally. This is a time where the discipler can clarify and instill the teachings of Christ with greater intensity. But sad to say, most leaders today are not able to carry out personal discipleship. They have so many meetings, planning, vistations, sermons, administration and coordination to do that they have no more time for the most important ministry for church leaders. Discipling and developing people are often left out, if not, pass down to some other people. Since this is the main task that Jesus did, I believe that it is the same for us too. Many of the things that church leaders do today should be delegated to others so as to allow the leaders to do the more important job of discipling and developing disciples. As leaders of the church, this job is best done by us and not others. This is perhaps the key to building a strong church with good successions.
The second aspect is that discipleship has to take place naturally. Jesus never told His disciples when they were having class. In fact, everywhere was His classroom. He did not have a program or a curriculum to follow. Everything just flow out of Jesus naturally. He taught them along the way and He used whatever the disciples were discussing to form His lessons. He just followed their topics and discussions accordingly. As such, He was able to seize their most teachable moments. We too need this kind of informal settings to disciple others. This is a time when they are off guard and open to us. Sometimes we may be too deliberate. But too much planning can make us functional. Our disciples can get so serious that we cannot see their true needs. If we have been walking with Christ closely, why not let Jesus overflow out of us naturally. Rely more on the Holy Spirit, and less on our knowledge, skills and experiences.
When we make discipleship personal and natural, we would realise that we ourselves would have also grown tremendously. Discipleship is no longer about programs or structures alone, but an adventure with Jesus and His people. We would learn to rely more on Him as He makes us a better discipler.