During the sermon this past Sunday, I asked two questions:
Are you intentionally engaged in making disciples among one, two, or a few?
Is there someone in your life in whom you are making a spiritual investment that will multiply for generations?
You may have left the passage and seeing Jesus’ model of disciple-making thinking, “Great. Count me in. Where do I start?”
I would like to spend some time answering that very question. Life-on-life discipleship has a variety of pathways and foci, but it has one thing at its very core each and every time. Discipleship always begins, continues, and multiplies with an intentional relationship founded on God’s Word and prayer. This is the recipe for all Christian growth.
The first step is taking initiative with someone in your life. Jesus initiated his discipleship relationship with the Twelve as he took the step toward these men (Mark 1:16-20; 2:13-14; 3:13-14).
As disciple-makers, then, we need to take initiative toward the people God has put in our lives. Take some time, reflect and pray, and jot down any thoughts and names that God brings to mind. Here are some opportunities you might consider:
- The person who sits in “your section” of the auditorium every Sunday
- The team member at work
- A close friend with whom you would love to go deeper
- Your neighbor who doesn’t know Christ
Whomever it may be, whether they are a Christian or not, it begins with a simple initiative of reaching across the relational chasm with a warm invitation. This is also where you should consider your gifting. If God has gifted you with the skill of baking pies (a gift he certainly has not given me), then incorporate that. But along with the pie, extend your hand, introduce yourself (if you need to), and ask the simple question, “Would you be interested in getting together to read the Bible and pray together sometime?”
This question can also be flipped if you desire to have someone else investe in you. You may see a more mature believer and want them to help you grow. Don’t hesitate to initiate in this direction as well: “Would you consider meeting with me to read the Bible and pray together sometime?”
What I describe above is simple, but I recognize it comes with some obstacles. You may feel like you don’t have time. You may lack the courage to initiate this kind of relationship. You may fear rejection. Honestly, I can struggle with all three of these as well. But God always supplies what we need to fulfill his work in this world.
If you are a busy parent, it may look like arranging a play date and spending time with someone while the kids play (and allowing for interruptions). That’s fine. Embrace that season of life. I find that, especially for families, it is less about making time and more about repurposing how we spend our time to include other people.
If your work life is overwhelming, it may look like breakfast before work or utilizing a lunch break. Everyone has to eat, right?
When it comes to courage or fear of rejection, remember that you are only responsible to be faithful in taking initiative toward others. You are not responsible for how the other person responds. And even if someone says, “No,” there is no harm done. That just means that God has someone else prepared to receive the opportunity.
In the end, developing relationships in this way isn’t difficult, but it is easy to neglect. This is something that we in the Cremeens’ home are working at more and more because (1) it is God’s call on the life of a disciple, (2) it is such a need in our church and our city, and (3) it really is a life-giving practice.
So, go ahead, take the step, and enjoy the fruit of developing intentional relationships around God’s Word and prayer. You won’t regret it.