How Do Discipleship Relationships Start?
Discipleship relationships start when we seize and seek opportunities. Sharing the gospel becomes “a way of life”. The gospel is the foundation of all our discipleship relationships. Thus, we need to be actively sharing the gospel and embracing opportunities.
Discipleship Relationships Start When We Seize Opportunities
- Everything starts with prayer. Jesus went out into a mountain to pray all night to God the night before He chose twelve of His disciples to be apostles. Also, believers are commanded to pray for unbelievers because God is willing for them to be saved. So if we are wanting to start a discipleship relationship with another person we need to start with prayer. Question: Are you praying for believers and unbelievers and “watching” for opportunities of who you can establish a discipleship relationship with?
Luke 6:12-16; 23:33-36; Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Asking and Believing: Matthew 7:7-11
- Seize current opportunities. Are you expecting God to answer your prayers? Next, you need to be looking for opportunities to seize. A discipleship relationship can start with a believer or an unbeliever—anyone who is willing to spend time you and learn from you. It often starts with those that you know—such as your family and friends. (Your family is your first disciples.) But you also need to be looking for people (inside and outside the church) who have similar interest as you or people who want to know more about the Bible. Question: Are you seizing current opportunities to start a discipleship relationship?
- Believers: If a person is a believer then they already have an established gospel foundation. Thus, you need to find out where they are at in their spiritual walk and, if you are able to help them grow in their faith, invite them to spend time with you studying the bible and developing a spiritual friendship. If they are willing and accept your invitation, this is the beginning of a discipleship relationship. (Remember: you can only lead people to do what you have already been doing.) Question: What believers around you can you help grow and mature in their faith?
- Unbelievers: If a person isn’t a believer then there is no established gospel foundation. Thus, you need to start with teaching them the gospel. You can invite them to spend time with you for the purpose of sharing the gospel with them and establishing a friendship. If they are willing and accept your invitation, this is the beginning of a discipleship relationship with the goal of leading them to become a genuine disciple through repentance and faith in Jesus alone as Lord and Saviour. Question: What unbelievers do you know that you can you share the gospel with?
Discipleship Relationships Start When We Seek Opportunities
- Make new opportunities. What if you currently don’t know any believers or unbelievers that you can start a discipleship relationship with, what should you do? You need to start making opportunities—meaning you need to be actively involved in reaching new people—those who you don’t currently know—through evangelism. Thus, the ultimate catalyst to initiate new discipleship relationships is witnessing to unbelievers. Jesus trained His disciples to be fishers of men—people that make disciples of all nations—but this absolutely included preaching the gospel. Witnessing is part of the great commission process. We cannot make disciples without evangelism. All believers are given the Holy Spirit for this very purpose—to be Jesus’ witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth. Questions: Are you trying to initiate new discipleship relationships by witnessing to unbelievers—even those you don’t currently know?
Mark 1:17; 16:15; Luke 19:10; (Examples of Jesus Evangelizing: Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 10:25-37; John 4:5-29)
- Just like those who responded to Jesus, we need to remember: (1) Not everyone will believe and become genuine disciples. But we should still continuously and intentionally preach the gospel. (2) Some will believe the gospel and become genuine disciples. We should continue to teach them in all things concerning following Jesus. This is the beginning of a discipleship relationship with the gospel foundation established.
Being Equipped With The Essentials Of Sharing The Gospel
- Boldness: We boldly share the gospel knowing it is God who ultimately has to do the work of salvation in a person’s life. Each time you share the gospel you might get a scared, nervous or unsettling feeling but we don’t let this fear paralyze us from sharing the gospel. We need to pray for boldness and allow this boldness to overshadow our weakness as we trust in God to save sinners. We are His workers, but He gives the increase.
Boldness: Proverbs 28:1; Acts 4:13, 29, 31; Salvation: Psalms 68:20; John 6:44; Romans 2:4; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:6-9
- Step 1—The Starting Point: Sharing the gospel can be done in a group setting or one-on-one. The starting point to share the gospel with either is to discover their knowledge of God and start where they are. Then you can properly contextualize (not change) the gospel message so they have a better understanding. For example, in the book of Acts we find that when they were sharing the gospel with the Jews they started with the prophets and law but when they were speaking to the Gentiles they started from Creation.
(1) Start at Creation: Romans 1:19-20; (Preaching to Jews: Acts 26:22; 28:23; Preaching to Gentiles: Acts 14:15; 17:24)
- Conscious Anxiety: Each society has different anxieties that they are conscious about, such as: sin, death, and the afterlife. We should be probing and find out what these anxieties are and try to share the gospel from that vantage point.
- Intentional Questions: Where did we come from?—Talk about the origin of man and God’s creation in comparison to other views. Why do you exist?—Talk about the purpose of life and the reasons for living. What is right and wrong?—Talk about man’s inherit knowledge of morality and the standard of good. What happens after you die?—Talk about life after death and eternity.
- Step 2—The Law of God: The purpose of using the law to share the gospel is to show people: they are sinners; they have offended a holy God: they will be judged by God one day; and they will receive death and hell as the price for sin. (Ask questions of sin, death, justice, etc.)
(2) The Knowledge of Sin: Romans 3:10-12, 23; (3) The Judgment of God: Romans 2:5-6; (4) The Price of Sin: Romans 5:12
- Step 3—The Gospel of Jesus Christ: The good news always follows the bad news. Thus, we need to share the core message of the gospel which means to show people: the atoning death of Jesus Christ; the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; salvation is a free gift from God; the great exchange of righteousness; and that Jesus is the only way. (Ask questions of forgiveness, mercy, grace, etc.)
(5) Jesus’ Gift: Romans 6:23; (6) Jesus’ Death: Romans 5:8; (7) Jesus’ Resurrection: Romans 4:25
- Step 4—The Crisis Point: Finally, when a person is humbled by their sin and the cross, it is time for them to make a decision. See if the person is willing to give all for Jesus, and encourage them to count the cost. We need to show them: how to repent towards God and how to put their faith in Jesus. (Ask questions of decision, time, application, etc.)
(8) Confess and Believe: Romans 10:9-10
- Everything starts with what? Are you doing that?
- What does it mean to seize opportunities?
- What does it mean to make new opportunities?
- What does it mean to have boldness in sharing the gospel?
- What are four essential steps of sharing the gospel?