10 REASONS WHY WE BELIEVE THAT PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP (SPIRITUAL PARENTING) IS NEEDED, IN ADDITION TO CORPORATE DISCIPLESHIP.
1. THE GENERALLY ACCEPTED DEFINITION OF “DISCIPLESHIP” IS DISTORTED
2. THERE IS AN ATTEMPT TO DEVELOP “TEACHERS” RATHER THAN “DISCIPLERS”
3. TO INFLUENCE MANY PEOPLE SIMULTANEOUSLY IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED THE METHOD OF CHOICE. PERSONAL ONE-ON-ONE DISCIPLESHIP APPEARS TO BE TOO TIME-CONSUMING, ENERGY CONSUMING, AND INEFFICIENT
4. MOST CHRISTIANS CONSIDER THEMSELVES INADEQUATELY TRAINED, OR UNGIFTED LEADERS ARE PRESUMED TO BE TRAINED, BUT LACK THE TIME FOR PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP; WHILE MANY FOLLOWERS HAVE THE TIME, BUT DON'T FEEL THEY ARE ADEQUATELY TRAINED
5. THE PRACTICE OF MENTORING, OR SPIRITUAL PARENTING, IS NOT BEING MODELED BY MANY OLDER CHRISTIANS
6. "PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP" (“SPIRITUAL PARENTING”) IS NOT PROMOTED AND MODELED FROM THE LEADERSHIP IN MANY CHURCHES
7. THERE IS AN ASSUMPTION THAT THE APPROPRIATION OF BIBLICAL KNOWLEDGE BY ITSELF WILL LEAD TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY
8. THE CHURCH COMMUNITY TYPICALLY FOCUSES ON MAKING CONVERTS RATHER THAN MAKING DISCIPLES
9. THERE IS A RELUCTANCE BY MANY CHRISTIANS TO MAKE A COMMITMENT THAT THEY PERCEIVE MAY INTERFERE OR LIMIT THEIR LIFESTYLE OR PLANS
10. BIBLICAL TRUTH IS OFTEN PRESENTED IN ISOLATED (TOPICAL) FORM WITHOUT A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF HOW IT FITS INTO THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AS A WHOLE, PROMOTING THE COMPARTMENTALIZING OF THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE
1. THE GENERALLY ACCEPTED DEFINITION OF “DISCIPLESHIP”
IS DISTORTED Generally speaking, in the Christian community
the term “discipleship” has become synonymous with “teaching”.
Thus anyone who “teaches” is thought by many to be fulfilling
the mandate to “make disciples”. Biblical discipleship carries
the thought of a deeper interaction between the discipler and the Christian
being discipled than that of simply teaching. While teaching is a crucial
component of the discipleship process, discipleship needs to be understood
to comprise other essential components as well. The typical practice of
teaching requires little or no interaction, since many times one person
spends an entire session speaking, while others spend the entire session
listening. We would not want to imply that there always has to be a dialog
between the speaker and listeners. However, for a Christian to become
a mature disciple, at some point the disciple (apprentice) must be allowed
to express and discuss unique needs and understanding. In other words,
discipleship needs to be redefined to comprise the idea of “spiritual
parenting”, “spiritual nurturing” or “spiritual
mentoring”. The apostle Paul’s example of Biblical discipleship,
as described in Lesson 2-2, should be compared with the current typical
pattern of church practice. See
Lesson 2-2 for more details.
2. TO INFLUENCE MANY PEOPLE SIMULTANEOUSLY IS GENERALLY
CONSIDERED THE METHOD OF CHOICE. PERSONAL ONE-ON-ONE DISCIPLESHIP APPEARS
TO BE TOO TIME-CONSUMING, ENERGY-CONSUMING, AND INEFFICIENT - The
concept we want to demonstrate is that the Biblical method of multiplication
is much more productive over the long haul. This is very important, because
the seeming short-term ineffectiveness has led many to the illusion that
it really is not the best method. To be honest, many Christian leaders
measure success by numbers. We believe this is one of the reasons there
is such an emphasis in the Christian community to hold events and activities,
which give the impression of short time success if attendance is the measure.
2-1 (Page 92) for more details.
3. THERE IS AN ATTEMPT TO DEVELOP “TEACHERS”
RATHER THAN “DISCIPLERS” A by-product of the
common misconception of how to define Biblical Discipleship (point 1.
above) is a tendency to focus special attention on believers who seem
to have a “gift” for teaching. Since teaching is a gift
of the Spirit*, we must conclude that most believers will not have the
gift of teaching. But “discipling” is not a gift. Therefore,
while we should only expect a few believers to become teachers, almost
all believers should be seen as potential disciplers. If asked, very few
Christians would say their gift is teaching. Let’s be liberal and
say that 10% of Christians are gifted in teaching. Then how are the other
90% supposed to minister? Many Christians if asked would respond by saying
their gift is to “serve”, which can mean anything from serving
meals at a homeless shelter to painting a widow’s house to innumerable
other means of “serving”. By no means do we want to imply
that these “services” are not good things. Hopefully it
will be seen that we need to redefine “discipleship”. God
designed a system of multiplication whereby humans have populated the
earth. We think it is sad and unusual if a married couple is incapable
of having children, yet there is little surprise in most churches when
typical Christians are not parenting spiritual children (making disciples).
See Handout 2-1 (page 94) for more details.
* Rom. 12:4-8, 1 Cor. 12:28-29, James 3:1
4. MOST CHRISTIANS CONSIDER THEMSELVES INADEQUATELY
TRAINED, OR UNGIFTED LEADERS ARE PRESUMED TO BE TRAINED, BUT LACK
THE TIME FOR PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP; WHILE MANY FOLLOWERS HAVE THE TIME,
BUT DON’T FEEL THEY’RE ADEQUATELY TRAINED See
Handout 2-1 (Page 93) for more details.
5. THE CHURCH COMMUNITY TYPICALLY FOCUSES ON MAKING
CONVERTS RATHER THAN MAKING DISCIPLES - Jesus, in giving us the Great
Commission (Matt. 28:19-20), said to go into all the world and make disciples,
not just converts. This then brings up the need to distinguish between
a “disciple” and a “non-disciple”. We believe
it is true to say that not all Christians are disciples, from the Biblical
standpoint. What then is a proper definition of the term “disciple”?
We believe it will help us to consider a disciple to be an “apprentice”.
(See Luke 6:40) See
Handout 2-4 for more details.
6. THE PRACTICE OF MENTORING, OR SPIRITUAL PARENTING, IS NOT BEING MODELED BY MANY OLDER CHRISTIANS The typical new Christian will imitate older Christians who they look up to, or with whom they associate. Thus every Christian is a role model for other Christians, even if they don’t want to be.
7. “PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP” (“SPIRITUAL PARENTING”) IS NOT PROMOTED AND MODELED FROM THE LEADERSHIP IN MANY CHURCHES In 1 Peter 5:1-3 leaders are told, “…, I exhort the elders among you, …, shepherd the flock of God among you, … nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. Not just telling people what to do, but rather, showing them what to do. Can Christian leaders realistically expect followers to imitate what they themselves are not modeling (by example)?
8. BIBLICAL TRUTH IS OFTEN PRESENTED IN ISOLATED
(TOPICAL) FORM WITHOUT A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF HOW IT FITS INTO THE CHRISTIAN
LIFE AS A WHOLE, PROMOTING THE COMPARTMENTALIZING OF THE CHRISTIAN’S
LIFE. - Imagine that you’re about to view a slide presentation
of a “project”, a “medical procedure”, or
someone’s “vacation trip”. You would normally expect
such a presentation to begin with an “objective”, or an
“overview”, and then proceed in a progressive and sequential
manner. But what if the slides were accidentally spilled on the floor,
and then put back into the trays in random order. The person doing the
presentation would probably be able to explain each individual slide,
but would generally have difficulty trying to present a progressive picture.
The more complicated the material, and the greater the unfamiliarity of
the viewer, the more difficult it would be to try to make sense out of
the presentation. Many times the Christian life is presented in a similar
random order. Thus the new believer will probably have a difficult time
trying to fit the isolated pieces together in a sensible way. That is
why we usually recommend that the discipleship process begin with a visual
Lesson 1-1), followed by a progressive and systematic presentation
of what will be encountered by the typical new believer. See
Handout2-1 (Page 96) for more details.
9. THERE IS A RELUCTANCE BY MANY CHRISTIANS TO MAKE A COMMITMENT THAT THEY PERCEIVE MAY INTERFERE OR LIMIT THEIR LIFESTYLE OR PLANS.
10. THERE IS AN ASSUMPTION THAT THE APPROPRIATION
OF BIBLICAL KNOWLEDGE BY ITSELF WILL LEAD TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY
See Lesson 2-3 (“THOUGHTS ON GROWING NEW BELIEVERS”) for more details.