I think back now on all the people who’ve had a hand in my spiritual growth. My parents, a close uncle, loving aunts, faithful friends. I think about Pastor Howle and his preaching between silly jokes and sobs. A Sunday School teacher, Mr. Merwin who took me on a 40 mile backpacking trip from North Georgia into North Carolina. Pastor Rhodes who made my new bride and me feel welcomed and loved in a little town called Hawkinsville. Small group leaders who showed me that discipling was more than just academics or theory.
I’m sorry, but I can’t recall all the profound advice these people gave me. No doubt, they brought me through many spiritual milestones. But I clearly remember their commitment, their devotion and passionate love for God. Because they cared about God, I cared. They took the Bible seriously, so I took it seriously. They may not have always been perfect, but they were faithful and sincere.
Have you considered where you are in your spiritual journey? Are you still a babe in Christ or have you reached adulthood? What about parenthood? Perhaps some of you are ready to raise the next wave of growing Christians.
Paul alluded to this concept in 1 Corinthians 4:15. We have many who tell us about the Christian life, but few who go the extra mile to adopt us as their “children.” We know Paul was a “spiritual daddy” to Timothy. Timothy, likewise, continued the process, raising up more spiritual kids. I think we all need a Paul and Timothy in our lives.
There are several ways to raise up new believers. I think God is even okay with us getting creative. But the main ingredient is a willing and obedient heart–God always blesses that basic motive.
Here are some ways my mentors have taught me to disciple others:
- My family. This has been my first and most important group of disciples. I will hold some amount of influence here for my entire life. Hopefully this influence will reach down to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
- Teaching Sunday School or a small group. Teach and shepherd God’s people. We need a blood family, and we need a spiritual family.
- Lead a men’s or women’s group. This has been my favorite type of discipleship group over the years. Special things happen when you get a group of godly men/women together.
- Disciple new Christians. Years ago, my wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to facilitate a class called Next Steps. I wrote the curriculum which covered the basics of Christianity and growth. Maybe you’re better at one-on-one. That’s good, because some students prefer it that way.
- Writing or speaking. I’m sure many of you have a strong talent for writing. You could write Bible studies, worship-inspiring articles or praise-inspiring poetry. Maybe you enjoy speaking in front of crowds–two great avenues to change the world for Christ.
- Service. Teaching can be most effective when serving others. Sometimes people don’t care about what you say until they know how much you care. God gave me 7 years in Boy Scouts. I continue to pray for these young men
What about you? What are some ways you’ve been involved in discipleship over the years?