Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ

How can I invite someone into a discipling relationship?


Earlier this year I described how to seek people who are looking for investment. Today I’d like to get really practical and specific about how to invite someone into a discipling relationship.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28: 19-20

Jesus words in Matthew are straight forward and simple, yet at the same time, not super easy. Sometimes I think it would be easier if the mandate of “go and make disciples” came with a manual. Fortunately, we have Jesus as our example and the Holy Spirit as our Guide.

So what is a discipling relationship?

The word “disciple” is translated from the Greek word “mathetes,” which means learner, more specifically, someone who learns the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus.

Discipleship is simply a term that refers to the process by which a person becomes more like Jesus in character and skill. It happens through relationships – with God and with one another – one disciple being the investor and the other learning from the investor the ways, words and works of Jesus. This can be through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, direct instruction and/or imitation. A discipling relationship is simply any relationship where discipleship is taking place.

Discipleship occurs in many different environments. Some disciples like to meet one-on-one, others in groups of two or three, still others prefer small groups of 6-10. Discipleship also takes place in missional communities as well as in our large corporate gatherings. And while discipleship can happen in many settings, one thing is clear. “GO” and “MAKE” are actions, not reactions. Therefore, someone does need to intentionally make the first step. And though this is often the hardest step to take, it doesn’t have to feel like a giant leap.

Let me share one way of taking that first step by letting God take responsibility for the placement of our foot to the pavement. Our responsibility here, simply put, is to create the space and open ourselves up to the possibility that He will do just that.

Here’s how we can do that:

  1. Begin by praying regularly that God would show you how and in whom He might want you to invest.
    • Does the Spirit bring any names or faces to mind as you pray?
    • Be persistent in that prayer. I typically pray consistently for several weeks or until 10-12 names come to mind.
    • Don’t hesitate to write all names down, even if they make no sense to you at the time.
  2. Reflect upon how you might open up and share your life with others.
    • Where do easy on-ramps already exist?
      • Do you eat lunch somewhere consistently?
      • What are you doing already where you could easily invite someone to join you?
    • What on ramps can you create for people to have access to your life?
      • Could you develop a rhythm that would enable someone to easily join you.
        • Is there a book or class you are engaged in from which someone else might benefit?
        • Maybe begin to grab coffee/dinner at a restaurant one night every other week and share that with a few people, who can decide to make that a rhythm in their life as well.
  3. Then keep your eyes and ears open as you go about your normal day.
    • Look for opportunities to engage in discussion with others about your desire to invest (especially with people on your prayer list).
    • Be sensitive to their response. Might they be persons of peace to you
  4. Pray through what rhythms you feel God might want you to pursue with these people.
    • Take into account your schedule and when/if you could commit to a consistent meeting day/time.
    • Consider how and at what level you may be able to share life with the people God’s brings to you.
      • Think of “shared-life” along a spectrum – high bar to low bar.
        • One example of low bar shared-life could be meeting them for coffee or inviting them to go to a sporting event with you.
        • A high bar example could be inviting them to a weekly dinner in your home.
  5. Develop a concrete, but flexible plan
    • How can you open your life to them?
    • Plan for both a structured time and a certain degree of shared-life
    • Consider the DNA of discipleship
    • Character & Competency
      • Handpicking a few
      • Organized & Organic
      • Invitation & Challenge
      • Common Language
      • Everyone Multiplies
      • Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
      • These are explained in greater detail on our website HERE
  6. Finally, find someone who can hold you accountable to putting your plan into action.
    • Share with that person all along the way from your beginning prayers and your initial meeting with those in whom you will invest.
    • Have this person pray for you as you step out and open your life to a new generation of disciples.

I highly suggest you pray through and develop your tentative plan BEFORE you begin the process of having discussions with potential disciples. This way you can give them a fairly clear picture of to what they would be agreeing.

I am beginning to disciple a few individuals this month and this is the means by which I allowed God to show me how and to whom to reach out.

HERE is what my “official” invitation looked like this time around. Keep in mind, again, that this was after many prayers, coffees and discussions with most of these individuals. LINK

Remember, you don’t have to be a perfect example to invest in others, just a living one – humble, honest and willing to let God teach you along the way.

May God bless you in this adventure!

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