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What is discipleship?

What is Discipleship?
I am honored to be in the line-up for the 2016 Downline Summit coming to Memphis February 5-6. If you are not familiar with Downline Ministries, it is a unique ministry designed to restore Biblical discipleship back to the church. Which begs the question, “What is discipleship!?” Don’t be intimidated by this word. As simply as I can put it, discipleship is spiritual parenting. When someone places his or her faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, he or she experiences what Jesus called being born again. This new birth is a miracle in every sense. As miraculous and wonderful as it is, the spiritual journey does not stop here. God's plan is for every born again Christian to grow up into a mature, fully devoted follower of Christ, and ultimately warriors for Christ. This "growing up” requires parenting; and that is what discipleship is all about. Discipleship involves those who are a few steps ahead of you in the journey of faith investing in you so that you might grow up into the man or woman God has intended you to become.

I love the way Downline reminds us of the important task of raising spiritual children and grandchildren. We must NOT allow children to be born and remain babies. We must remember that God’s plan is that we continue to grow up in our faith all the days of our life. 

I’m praying for what I know God will do at the Summit this year. I pray that all who attend will be filled with both inspiration to “make disciples” as well as the practical training to take the next step whether that means being discipled or discipling others. 

Here are 6 statements of discipleship that God has brought to my attention over the years. I pray these will live in you as you pursue a greater commitment to discipleship in your own life. Maybe God will use one of these statements to convict or challenge you. 

  1. Discipled people, disciple people. Those who have experienced healthy spiritual parenting and investment tend to be those most committed to the cause. I urge all believers to maintain at least three key relationship in their network, a spiritual parent/coach, a spiritual teammate in the race and a younger spiritual sibling to parent/coach. This should keep a clear view of the necessity and blessing of discipleship in your life. Your personal commitment to make disciples will be contagious. 
  2. Discipleship is a calling upon God’s church, not simply a select few. The work of raising spiritual babies into warriors for Christ requires the strength and diversity of God’s Church. Lone Ranger style discipleship is filled with gaps. We need the best of the body of Christ to invest in the discipleship process. Growing believers need the strengths and gifts of a variety of people to pour into them for their growth. If you are a disciple maker, don’t allow your pride to cause you to solo-disciple. Leverage the people God has placed in your local church context to invest in people for maximum impact.
  3. Discipleship is WAY more than education. Resist the urge to think discipleship is simply a matter of teaching people information about God, Jesus or the Bible. While education is a vital component, true discipleship quickly involves giving a growing believer “skin in the game” by activating their faith through serving in the church, community and around the world. Discipleship should exist most in the laboratory of real life.
  4. Discipleship should make you more outsider friendly, not less. True discipleship will not result in “holy huddles” or retreating from the world. True disciples are eager to engage the culture around them and share the Gospel in order to see more people come to faith and have the privilege of raising those spiritual newborns into warriors for Christ. Too many Christians have allowed their spiritual growth to pull them away from relating to the world. Never forget Jesus called us salt and light.
  5. Not everyone is ready to be discipled. I wish this weren’t true but it is. You can’t make people pursue Jesus. Your time is best spent on those who show a hunger to grow and mature. Yet, this should never constitute a negative attitude toward people not yet interested in discipleship, simply pray that God give them an unquenchable desire to want to grow in Christ. 
  6. Downline is the objective. I mean that quite literally, the objective is that every Christian have a downline, or multiple generations of warriors for Christ in their legacy. This means the first commitment of every disciple is to disciple the next person.

If you’d like to attend the Downline Summit please visit the website here: http://www.downlinesummit.com/ and use the promo code: HIGHPOINT for a discount on your registration.
Posted by Andy Savage at 12:45 PM
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