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I am trying to get back to the basic principles of discipleship. This year, as a church, we are trying to focus (or refocus) on the importance of Jesus’ call to discipleship. Throughout the years, the focus of our church has always been on “transformation.” We will never see transformation in our families, church, society and the nations if our lives are not first transformed with the Gospel message. But as we experience more of God’s work of transformation in our lives, then we will be able to be the agents of transformation.
Looking back to my journey in discipleship, I am thankful for all the different people that God has placed in my life to help me grow as a Christ-follower. One particular person that had a huge impact in the way I see and do discipleship is Dr. Robert E. Coleman. I still remember the early morning discipleship meetings on Tuesdays. There were many cold Chicago winter mornings, where I did not want to get out of my warm toasty bed to go to the discipleship gathering. But something kept on compelling me to go.
I still remember the many talks with him where he shared his heart and wisdom. I still remember going over to his house and getting to know him more in his natural environment. I still remember the various road trips out to Wheaton where I saw his passion for missions and evangelism as he did ministry. I still remember the gatherings, where he just landed at the airport from a missions trip and then met with us to share his experiences with us. All these things are still fresh in my mind.
As I have watched him and many others over the years, I have learned many principles about discipleship. One common thread that runs throughout my experiences is the importance of the relationship. No amount of classes or head knowledge on discipleship can trump the importance of doing discipleship via life-on-life.
One big part of discipleship is learning how to develop a heart for Christ and His Kingdom. A good way to learn it is by “doing” ministry together. This is why I have taken the age old principle – “I do, you watch; I do, you help; you do, I help; you do, I watch; now teach it to someone else” – and tried to simplify it for our members.
I am calling it the “WHAT” principle.
Simply, it is “Watch, Help, Assist, Teach.” A lot of things are learned by just watching and observing, but that is not enough. As we begin to watch, we need some “on-the-job” training. This requires a person to have different opportunities to help out and implement the things that they are learning. Sometimes we learn best by trying, failing, and then trying again. From here, we need to do things on our own by using the principles that we have learned. But we are not totally alone. The discipler or the mentor should be present to assist along the way. It is a good avenue for us to get evaluated and make improvements. This is an important step of growing and maturing as a disciple. Then eventually, we want to teach these principles to someone else; hence the discipleship cycle continues.
This is what we are going to focus on this coming year, as we are going through a major ministry shift with new leaders and members. I am thrilled to see what God has in store for us as we continue to make disciples who will transform the world… one life at a time.