How Is An Environment Of Discipleship Created?

An environment of discipleship is created by a disciple of Jesus who intentionally invites others into a discipleship relationship, challenges them to change with the Word of God and trains them how to accomplish it. It aims to build a culture where if one is immersed into it they will intuitively learn from their surroundings. It is also a place where love reigns which allows discipleship to thrive.

We Must Be Intentional About Inviting, Challenging And Training

  • An environment of discipleship is created by being intentional about it. To establish an environment of discipleship we must be deliberate and purposeful about doing so. It doesn’t just accidentally happen but it is carefully orchestrated by one person—(who is fluent in discipleship)—who then teaches others to do the same. Thus, an environment of discipleship is created by being intentional about the following three areas:
    Jesus’ Intentionality: John 6:70; 15:16
    • Invitation: We need to intentionally and consistently be inviting others into our lives to establish a relationship with them so that we can help them become or mature as disciples of Jesus. This means we are inviting new people into a relationship with us, but also inviting those who we are training to be around us. This gives them access and permission to be with you.
      Jesus’ Invitations: Matthew 4:19-20; Mark 1:17-18; John 1:35-42
    • Challenge: We need to intentionally and consistently be challenging others to change—to live the victorious Christian life—especially those who respond to our invitation. Basic challenges can be “open ended” to different groups, but the high pressure challenges that lead to real life change need to be given within the discipleship relationship because it is more personal, the permission for such challenges is already given, and the structure of accountability is setup to help it get accomplished.
      Jesus’ Challenges: Matthew 10:38; 16:21-26; 23:1; Mark 8:34-37; Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-27; John 15:1-11
    • Training: We need to intentionally and consistently be training others to accomplish the challenges we challenge them with. We must be fluent in the area we are challenging others about if we are to train them by example and through our teaching. In other words, we have to be living the victorious Christian life to be able to train others in it. Thus, every challenge must be backed by the promise of our help to make them successful at accomplishing it.
      Jesus’ Training: Matthew 5:1; 10:7-10; Mark 4:33-34; 6:7-9; Luke 9:1-4

We Must Establish A Strategic Culture Of Discipleship

  • An environment of discipleship is created by building a strategic culture. A culture of discipleship is when our attitudes, actions and words all work towards the achievement of discipleship. It is within this culture that others can “immerse” themselves into and learn by experiencing discipleship. Thus, discipleship is not viewed as just taking a class (learning information) or apprenticeship (learning skills), but as an entire way of life full of shared discipleship characteristics where people can “intentionally” and “intuitively” learn how to be a disciple of Jesus and how to train others to be disciples of Jesus. We refer to this as “strategically doing life together.” It is using everyday life to its fullest potential. As we do this we can remember to be strategic about the following three areas:
    Jesus’ Strategy: Mark 3:7-19; Acts 4:13
    • Strategic Relationships: One person can’t disciple everyone, but everyone can disciple someone. Our disciples will have more access into our lives than others do. We strategically give them more time. They have access into our everyday lives and we strategically use this time to invite, challenge and train them in all areas, whether formal or informal. Jesus ate with, traveled with, did ministry with His disciples, etc.
      Jesus’ Disciples: Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 6:12-16
    • Strategic Influence: Our training includes three key components. First, the trainer expounds knowledge through instruction (teach them how to do it). The trainee listens, contemplates, ask questions, talks about it and learns. Second, the trainer encourages emulation to cultivate ability (show them how to do it). The trainee imitates, mirrors, and does things just like their trainer until they are proficient. Thirdly, the trainer empowers confidence to bear responsibility and make decisions (allow them to do it). The trainee has the freedom to independently make plans and take action but is held accountable. Thus, that pattern is simple: (1) You serve—the disciples watch and learn. (2) You and the disciples both serve. (3) The disciples serve—you encourage and advise.
      Jesus’ Influence: (1) Luke 6:28; 9:18; 10:2 (2) Luke 9:28; 11:1-4; (3) John 14:12; Acts 1:24; 4:31; 6:6
    • Strategic Growth: There needs to be growth in the following three relationships: (1) the disciple and their relationship with God—eagerness in their devotion to God. (2) the disciple and their relationship with the church—edification in the local community of believers. (3) the disciple and their relationship with unbelievers—engagement in reaching the lost.
      Jesus’ Focuses: (1) Matthew 16:13-16; (2) Matthew 16:17-18; (3) Matthew 16:19; 28:16-20

We Must Love One Another Like Jesus Loved His Disciples

  • An environment of discipleship is created by loving one another like Jesus loved His disciples. This kind of environment allows your disciples to thrive. This creates an environment of influence (not dictatorship). Thus, training disciples in an environment of love should have the following characteristics:
    Matthew 20:28; John 13:34-35; 15:12-17; 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
    • Trust and Commitment—Discipleship requires that we trust the other person and be committed to the training process.
      Proverbs 11:14; 31:11-12; 1 Corinthians 13:7
    • Grace and Mercy—Discipleship requires that we extend grace and show mercy when the other person messes up or when conflicts arise.
      Luke 6:36-38; Ephesians 4:29
    • Humility and Submission—Discipleship requires that we humble ourselves and submit to one another for our mutual benefit and to be able to serve one another.
      Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:1-11
    • Encouragement and Affirmation—Discipleship requires that we encourage others in the Lord and affirm their importance in Christ and as they produce spiritual fruit.
      1 Thessalonians 5:11; 2 Timothy 1:3-4
    • Accountability and Transparency—Discipleship requires that we hold each other accountable and live transparent lives so that we can experience true growth.
      Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Luke 17:3-4; Galatians 6:1-5

Review Questions

  • What are the three areas we need to be intentional about?
  • What is a strategic culture of discipleship?
  • What is the strategic focus of discipleship?
  • We must do what to one another like Jesus did?
  • What characteristics does an environment of love have?

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