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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.

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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. See Handout 2-1 (Page 92) for more details.
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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

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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 TRAINEDSee Handout 2-1 (Page 93) for more details.

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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.

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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.

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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)?

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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 overview (see 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.

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9. THERE IS A RELUCTANCE BY MANY CHRISTIANS TO MAKE A COMMITMENT THAT THEY PERCEIVE MAY INTERFERE OR LIMIT THEIR LIFESTYLE OR PLANS.

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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.

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