Of course much has been written on this topic by scribblers more competent and qualified than I. Still, perhaps it is useful to share the state of my thinking in the practical world of "how to make this real" for a local church.
Miguel, a missionary in Ecuador, blogged on the question of "Did Jesus Have Discipleship Classes?", in a post which caught my attention in part because there was a comparison to the dissection of a baby seal in biology class ("I wonder if Jesus had these kinds of discipleship classes?"). Perhaps more interesting was the photo of the whiteboards that spawned this gut reaction (and no, I don't speak Spanish):
|Miguel's whiteboards, which led him to wonder if we make discipleship too complicated.|
My thinking on this question begins here--discipleship is really about two things: relationship and purpose, or perhaps more specifically purpose in relationship. There are many fine strategies and tactics out there, but somehow it always comes back to these two things.
Relationship: The church is relationship. It is the body of Christ, vitally connected.
Purpose: The church grows up into the head--which is Christ.
This gets more practical when we consider its implications. Those who do not have Christ desperately need him--we call this evangelism. Those who have him need him more fully--we call this discipleship.
It is when every relationship is infused with Christ’s purposes that I will truly be a maker of disciples. Everything else–classes, books, meetings, campaigns, etc.–flows back to that central idea.This is a very current thought process for me, as my church is currently weighing the practical implications of our Year of Discipleship effort--which is itself yet another tool (a "campaign") to help concentrate the minds of the congregation. Therefore I value any readers' thoughts, experiences, etc.