Sunday morning I met with the people at our church who had signed up a few weeks ago to be discipled (in response to my challenge during my message). The primary purpose of the meeting was to get things kicked off in the discipleship process by discussing expectations, both theirs and mine.
I had them share their expectations as they introduced themselves to the group. Their expectations were pretty non-specific and along the lines of what I anticipated. We talked a little bit about the difference between discipling and mentoring, at least from my perspective. I shared that I usually think of discipling in the context of a more mature Christian teaching a young Christian spiritual disciplines to help them to grow, whereas mentoring is often more of a peer-to-peer relationship of encouraging and guiding in developing a ministry skill. I did stress in regards to their expectations that I was not going to be teaching a class … that this was about one-to-one discipling and that I would be helping to connect them with a discipler, in most cases someone I was training to disciple them.
Most of our time was spent sharing my expectations of someone I would disciple (and naturally, what I had told those I am training to expect). I explained that a good part of my discipleship training came from The Navigators who often train by using easy-to-remember illustrations and acronyms. Thus, I was looking for FAT people to disciple:
Faithful: you can be counted on to do what you say … if given an assignment to do/read something by our next meeting and you agree to it, you are expected to have it done
Available: you can’t disciple someone who is not available … it’s best to engage face-to-face, preferable weekly, but not always possible; evaluate the effectiveness of email / phone / internet chat interaction
Teachable: while disagreeing with what you’re being taught is not forbidden (or even necessarily discouraged), constantly rejecting direction given and not even trying what is suggested prevents progress
While it is not necessary to communicate these expectations to someone you wish to disciple, it is helpful for you to keep them in mind as you evaluate whether it is an effective use of your time to continue to seek to disciple them.
I also pointed out to the group that it is also very possible to disciple someone without them knowing that you were doing so. This would be common with someone that you lead to Christ. It should naturally progress from that point to continue to meet with them and share with them how to get established as a Christian … teaching them to pray, to read the Bible, to have a quiet time, etc. All of this could be done without ever asking them if you can disciple them or telling them that you are doing so. Much like a parent with a newborn baby … you don’t tell them what you’re going to do or get their permission, you just love them and teach them what they need to learn to survive and grow.
The adventure begins!