How to Decide What to Study When Discipling Someone

June 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

The process of discipling a new Christian is important and critical to the Christian faith. Therefore, deciding what to study when a discipleship relationship begins is also vitally important and must be done with care and tact.

pic of books to study

Flickr Photo Credit: jimmiehomeschoolmom

This year I have enjoyed the process of discipling a young man named Allan (not his real name). However, the beginning of a discipleship relationship is very important because it lays the foundation for what is going to occur later in the discipleship process. In the second meeting Allan and I had we were faced with the topic of how to decide what to study.

Deciding what to study with Allan was very important because “discipling relationships are customized to the unique growth process of the individuals.” 1 Because I was committed to Allan and his growth as a new Christian, I knew that we had to pick a topic to study that would be relevant to his life as a new Christian.

When looking at what to study I came up with:

  • Big Events of the Old Testament
  • An Exegesis of Romans
  • Major Characters of the Bible
  • Simply read a book or workbook as a method of discipleship

After some discussion with Allan, I allowed him to be the one to chose which area to study. In my head, I had an idea of what I thought would have been best for him, but I wanted to see where his interested laid.

Allan decided he wanted to learn more about the Big Events of the Old Testament, which was also the topic I felt he would benefit most from.

In discipleship, it is important to remember that what is taught and how a person is discipled varies for each and every person. In their book, Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed, Paul Stanley and Robert Clifton define the role of a dscipler this way:

Discipling is a relational process in which a more experienced follower of Christ shares with a newer believer the basic skills and spirit necessary to know and obey Jesus Christ as Lord. The discipler’s job is to teach and enable a mentoree in the the basics of following Christ through devotions, word intake, relationships, and ministry. 2

As Stanley and Clinton assert, discipleship is an individual process. In Allan’s case, he knew the New Testament gospels pretty well and he had read a lot about Jesus, but his knowledge and information of the Old Testament was lacking. This led us to decide to study Big Events of the Old Testament as a way improve his knowledge of the Old Testament, therefore allowing him to better understand Jesus and Jesus’ teachings.

Here are a few miscellaneous tips to help you when deciding what to study when discipling someone:

1. Look for what interests the disciple.
If there is a particular book of the Bible or topic that interests the disciple, feel free to disciple the person there. Because she already shows an interest in something means she will be more engaged and more likely to participate.

2. Look for areas of knowledge the disciple lacks.
In Allan’s case, he knew very little about the Old Testament books beyond Genesis. Not knowing the Old Testament greatly limits his ability to read and understand what is in the New Testament. Look for a particular area where the disciple lacks knowledge and suggest that as a┬átopic that might be worth spending time in.

3. Look for areas you have a special expertise in.
It is hard to teach a disciple in an area you know little about, so consider a topic or section of the Bible which you have a high level of knowledge or lots of experience in living out the information. This will greatly help you to teach the material to the disciple as well as show her how to live out what God’s word teaches.

In the process of getting to know Allan and discipling him we have had a great time. And, because we took time to examine ourselves and see what areas Allan wanted to study, we are both benefiting from the relationship.

My hope is that you too can have a successful and productive time discipling someone. If you take time at the beginning of the relationship to study the right topic, the discipling relationship will be a success.

Question: What methods or strategies do you use when deciding what to study in a discipling relationship?

Notes:

  1. Greg Ogden, Transforming Discipleship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003), 125.
  2. Paul D. Stanley and Robert Clinton, Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1992).

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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