Biblical Discipleship Paradigm for Redeemer Bible Fellowship
It is indicative of the times in which we live to have to list discipleship as a church distinctive. We have to wonder, what is consuming the church if her members are not spending themselves in discipleship? The Lord himself mandated discipleship in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, so a church which does not have discipleship as a core component of ministry is a church unconcerned with the Great Commission. What Jesus commands in those primary marching orders for the church cannot be accomplished by simply offering a class once a week and/or meeting together in a home group. Discipleship is a close-range, life-on-life, coming alongside of one another in order to help each other be conformed into Christ’s image. Thus, faithful discipleship requires much time, effort and patience as Christ is formed in someone. Accordingly, the one discipling will also be called upon to grow in Christlikeness throughout the process.
The model for discipleship can be seen in the relationship between Christ and his disciples, in which he exemplified and taught truth. According to Paul’s instructions to Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:2, discipleship begins at the pastoral level and then trickles down until others are able to faithfully disciple as well. This occurs first and foremost by pastors being examples to the flock and giving opportunity for the flock to imitate their lives (1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Pet. 5:3; Heb. 13:7).
When discipleship is flourishing in a church the more mature in Christ are coming alongside those less mature in the natural flow of life, as indicated at the beginning of Titus 2. Discipleship doesn’t end until one is made complete in Christ, so it is an ongoing process (Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:13). This becomes clear when considering that the content of discipleship from the Great Commission is teaching ALL that Christ commanded. This includes all the “one anothers,” spiritual gifting cultivation and responsibilities, marriage and parenting principles, financial stewardship, etc. Essentially, it’s a stirring one another up to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).
Last but not least, discipleship is to be conducted in the dispositions described in Gal. 6:1-5 and Rom. 12, in order to avoid self-righteousness and judgmentalism.