Relating to my posts over the last few days, I think you will enjoy reading about a book I just finished titled, Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time by Greg Ogden.
God is God. He rules over you and me. It is nice to have Ogden affirm this when he writes, “we are kingdom people, which means that Jesus is Lord in our hearts, homes and workplaces; our attitudes, thoughts and desires; our relationships and moral decisions; our political convictions and social conscience” (pg 28). The dilemma is how we use the power of discipleship in triads to help each other make that happen.
Based on my personal story of being discipled before being a Christian, I agree with Ogden on making discipleship not just for “super-Christians” (pg 48). I believe that we should frame discipleship as something that can happen to people the moment they become a Christian, and before. The task for us as churches is to encourage that to happen.
I learned years ago that who you spend time with is who you become. Who you hang around and who you allow to influence you determines what kind of person is modeled for you. Jesus seems to have known that before I did, and Ogden reminds us, saying, “His [Jesus] life and mission needed to be internalized in the lives of the disciples. The way to ensure that they internalized his mission was through ‘purposeful proximity’” (pg 65). Jesus knew that his disciples would be like him and catch on to what he was doing by simply having them around. That is exciting to me as a Christian leader to know that I do not always have to be teaching and mentoring. I can simply allow the people I want to disciple to hang around with me.
I often ponder and write about the purpose of leadership and how to do a great job of it. Ogden offers us great insight when he tells us that, “Jesus staked his entire ministry on the preparation of the Twelve to carry on his mission after he returned to the Father” (pg 95). This is a great call to us as current Christian leaders that we are to stake our entire ministry on preparing the people around us to carry on our ministry for Christ before returning to the Father.
Approaching the end of Transforming Discipleship, Ogden starts to give us a picture of what successful discipleship looks like in a church. He touches on something that seems very important as an implementer of discipleship groups when he writes, “A discipling or training model has a much greater chance of outliving a primary leader than does one built around a leader’s personality” (pg 134). This is big for us as leaders because it is easy to use our charisma to cast vision and lead based on our skills and personal style of discipleship. But if we work hard to develop a “model” for discipleship to take place on a regular basis that might slightly reflect our personality but not depend on it, that model has great chance to continue on after we leave.
Perhaps one of Ogden’s shortest statements in the book is also one of the most moving for me. When talking about training in righteousness through Scripture he declares, “We become what we place our minds on” (pg 167). I believe this applies to scripture and to the discipleship relationships we might engage in. When we commit to meeting with one or two other believers in a covenantal discipleship relationship, we are going to be placing our minds on the right things. And placing our minds on the right things with other Christians is going to help us become the people God wants us to be: solid Christian men and women who are trained to equip other saints and share the gospel.
Question: What has been your experience in a discipleship relationship?