The Cycle of Discipleship (Part 1 of 2): Discipleship Takes Time
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)
Anyone who is in Christ is a part of a giant stone wall. The notion of "the church" being "the people" (rather than a building or a campus) is one that is huge to most serious evangelical Christians. It's tempting to think about the building that we meet in as "the church", especially since that's what we've called it for hundreds of years. And I 'm not one to jump down someone's throat if they slip up and refer to a building as such. It is, however, vital that we understand that WE, the people of the kingdom, are the body of Christ on earth. We are a living breathing organism. Having said that, I want to share a little of my heart of the concept of growing the church through discipleship.
Last night I had the opportunity to take part in an ancient ceremony that dates back to the time of Jesus. I played a role in the ordination of a new minister of the Gospel. It was extra special for me though. This guy was a guy that I actually disciple from childhood. Joe Cartwright was in the 8th grade when I met him. He was a punk middle schooler, not unlike the hundreds of others that I've worked with in my years in Youth ministry. But for some odd reason, God laid it on my heart to take him on as a personal "project". Once I dove into the task I learned that, like many other 8th graders, Joe was hurting. He wouldn't have told you that but it was the truth. He was from a broken family and had gotten caught up in the gang mentality of inner-city Norfolk VA youth.
It took a few years but eventually he let me into his life. Our first connection was music. I taught him how to play drums and introduced him to Christian Rap and hard-core (bear in mind...hard-core ain't what it used to be...haha). Joe did a lot of growing on his own. He owned his faith and chose to become a disciple of Christ and to be obedient in Christian baptism. I had the honor of immersing him into Christ!
After High School Joe chose to go to Bible college at Mid-Atlantic Christian University to pursue youth ministry. Our paths crossed again when, after having been working in teen ministry at Christ's Church, I had a one year internship to offer a College Student....Joe applied and was a shoe in for the position.
In the past past year Joe has been working alongside me as a co-minister. He's been phenomenal and I know he has personally touched the lives of dozens of kids in our teen ministry. He's not the punk 8th grader I once met. As a matter of fact, 6 months into his internship I assigned him to oversee the middle school programming of our teen ministry. He worked with about 50 punk middle schoolers and all the while poured the love of Christ in their lives. The irony never escaped my mind as I often sat back to watch him do what he does best, love kids in the name of Jesus.
Discipleship is a buzz word these days in ministry. There are so many buzz words in professional ministry that I'm afraid that some ministers are at a breaking point of confusion on what to do. This article is part one of a two part series that I want to write on the cycle of discipleship. The first point simply being this, discipleship takes time.
It's great to think we can take a person through a 6 week course or a weekend seminar and "disciple" them. But remember, life change takes time. Jesus spent 3 years with the guys he called his "disciples". Of course, the duration of a discipleship relationship is limited to the numbers minutes you might have with someone. Some people you may only get 10 minutes t influence before your paths split and others might entail a lifetime of growing together. My purpose in saying this is not to say that we should kick out all short term discipleship programs. Nay! In fact, I'm a big fan of systematic teaching. It think it brings a vast amount of continuity to the the learning process. Instead, what I'm suggesting is that it doesn't END there. Never stop the process of discipleship. The word disciple means "learner". Just as, in life, we never stop learning - in faith we need never stop discipling and being discipled.
"You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house... "
About Me: Chris Woolard
I'm a Christian. a father and husband, a musician and teacher. My early years are a blur but by middle school my family settled down in Wilson NC. I married my highschool sweetheart in May of 2003 and we welcomed our son onto the scene in September 2006 and our little girl in August 2009.
If you care, you can learn a little more about me here