Why Relational Discipleship Has Become My Priority

by | May 30, 2012 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

I’d
rather invest in a few emerging leaders than preach to crowds of thousands.
Here’s why.

Once
when I was traveling in India a pastor made a tempting proposal. “If you come
to our city, we will stage a big evangelistic campaign and invite thousands,”
he said. “You can preach to all of them.” This man assumed I would be
intrigued. After all, I could take photos of the big crowds and use them to
brag later about how many people made decisions for Christ.

I
didn’t accept the offer. Instead I gave the man a second option. “Let me spend
three days with a small group of pastors,” I said. “Let me encourage them, and
then they can go out and preach at the big meetings. They will do a much better
job than I could.”

Jesus did
not mass-produce legions of followers. He hand-carved a few—and they became the
pillars of the early church.”

I’m
not against mass evangelism. I’m not criticizing people who organize big
meetings. But I’m learning that the best way to impact a large number of people
is to focus on a few.

This
was Jesus’ method of ministry. Most of his conversations in the Gospels were
with His small group of handpicked disciples. Even when He did mass meetings,
He used them to instruct the people He was mentoring. For 3.5 years He invested in His closest followers in a deeply personal way—not as an
instructor but as a friend. Jesus did not mass-produce legions of followers. He
hand-carved a few—and they became the pillars of the early church.

Jesus
calls us to do ministry His way—by making disciples. Yet in today’s
performance-based culture, we think bigger is better. We put all our money and
time into splashy events while ignoring relationships. We want the sensational,
not the simple. We crave big meetings, bigger platforms, noisy sermons,
hyped-up altar calls and instant results. It may look spectacular on opening
night, but the show fades fast.

This
shallowness is killing us. Christianity in so many parts of the world is a mile
wide and an inch deep because we think faith is best transmitted to people by
preachers standing behind pulpits. Preaching is certainly important, but
without personal discipleship leaders aren’t formed and Christians don’t develop
true character. If this vital relational aspect is overlooked, our faith
becomes programmed, superficial and horribly fake.

I’ve
changed my priorities as I have grasped this truth. I’m not as interested in
flashy conferences or huge crowds as I am in making an indelible mark on people
who can then disciple others. And as the Lord has shifted my paradigm, I have
become more intentional about making discipleship a part of my daily life. I’ve
done this by following what I call the Five “I’s” of Discipleship:

1. Identify. Jesus prayed carefully before selecting those who would
travel with Him. Paul selected people like Timothy, Silas, Aquilla and
Priscilla to be his ministry companions. Who are you called to disciple? God
connects people in discipleship relationships.

2. Invest.
Don’t look at discipleship as a program. It must flow out of love and genuine
friendship. It is a precious investment of your time into a younger Christian.
Paul told the Thessalonians: “We were well-pleased to impart to you not only
the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to
us” (1 Thess. 2:8, NASB).

3. Include. One of the ways I disciple young men is by taking them with me on
ministry trips. I would have fewer hassles if I traveled alone, but my privacy
is not that precious. In the last couple of years I’ve invited emerging leaders
such as Jason, Steven, Vitaly, Khuram, Donnie, Felipe, Lyndle and Ryan to
accompany me to various events. Investing in a disciple, to me, has become more
exciting than preaching to a multitude!

4. Instruct. Jesus didn’t lecture his disciples; He artfully wove His
teaching into the events of daily life—a storm, the death of a friend or an
encounter with a needy beggar. His teaching flowed out of His relationship with
His companions. Discipleship does not have to happen in a classroom setting. It
can happen at a doughnut shop, during a bike ride or in a car. Expect “teaching
moments” to flow naturally when you are spending time with those you are
mentoring.

5. Intercede. Paul told Timothy that he constantly remembered him in his
prayers “night and day” (2 Tim. 1:3). The most effective discipleship occurs
when the discipler invests time in prayer for those he or she is mentoring.
After some of my young disciples gave me an iPad last year, I decided to return
the favor by using it to help me pray for them. I now have a “visual prayer
list” with photos of the people I intercede for regularly.

Floyd
McClung, a former leader of Youth With a Mission who now lives in South Africa,
says he wishes he had spent more of his time making disciples when he was
younger. He recently wrote: “I’ve been blessed to do many things: books, conferences,
television, etc. But that’s nothing compared to pouring into others and seeing
them go for it.”

Leaders all around the world are coming to this same
conclusion. They recognize that today’s fatherless generation is looking for
more than the hottest music, the coolest stage lighting or the hippest
techno-pastor. They just want authentic role models who will spend time with
them.

J. Lee
Grady
is the former editor of Charisma
and the director of The Mordecai Project. He is
ministering in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week. You can follow him on Twitter
at leegrady.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

How Would an Encounter in Heaven Transform Your Life?

How Would an Encounter in Heaven Transform Your Life?

Have you ever wondered what heaven was like? What does a person see and experience when they are in heaven? Is the arrival in immediate when a believer dies? These are great questions and ones that Rabbi Felix Halpern can answer. A mix-up in medicine brought about a...

Prophet: Learning to Listen With Discernment

Prophet: Learning to Listen With Discernment

Learning to listen with discernment means that you begin to recognize the voice of God so well that other voices sound unfamiliar. In John 10:5a, Jesus told his followers, "Yet they will never follow a stranger." This statement needs to become a reality in your life....

5 Stages of Building a Successful Team

5 Stages of Building a Successful Team

The definition and purpose of leadership are directly tied to organizational models and the five stages of building an organizational model. Let’s talk about those five stages. What we say here may sound somewhat like what you may have heard before about building a...

Mario Murillo Compares America Now to Israel on Mount Carmel

Mario Murillo Compares America Now to Israel on Mount Carmel

America stands in a crucial moment, much like the moment where Elijah made Israel choose between Baal and Jehovah. Elijah said to the people, "How long do you halt between two opinions? If Baal is God..." That's according to Evangelist Mario Murillo, whose ministry...

Spirit-Filled Pastor: Can I Ask God for Confirmation?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: Can I Ask God for Confirmation?

There are many incidents of God giving people a sign throughout the Bible. Although I believe God still does this, I also believe that we must be careful. Asking for a sign can be misleading if other factors are not taken into consideration. In Genesis, we find an...

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: Are You Ready To Meet Jesus?

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: Are You Ready To Meet Jesus?

The last words Jesus spoke to me in my 23 Minutes In Hell vision were, “Tell them I am coming very, very soon.” Then He repeated Himself and said again, “Tell them I am coming very, very soon.” The Bible is clear that Jesus is coming back to rapture His believers,...

RECENT ARTICLES

The Best Way to Love Others and Yourself

I believe that other than the gospel regarding salvation through faith in Christ, learning to walk in love is the most important lesson in God’s Word. Jesus says that love is the most important...
10 Reasons the Apostolic Movement Is Essential to Gospel Expansion

10 Reasons the Apostolic Movement Is Essential to Gospel Expansion

The global apostolic movement is the most significant expression of Christianity today. This is the view expressed by historian Philip Jenkins. He talks about the rapid expansion of the church in the global south, much of which is reminiscent of the first-century...

Experience a Better Kind of Love in Your Relationships

Experience a Better Kind of Love in Your Relationships

Do you have any relationship struggles? Perhaps you want to learn how to love, for real. Too often today, people search for a fairytale love and are disappointed when the fairytale fizzles, which it will. Michael Gibson, author of Real Life Love, challenges folks to...

The Roaring Heart Podcast with Anthony Hart

The Roaring Heart Podcast with Anthony Hart

The Roaring Heart Podcast With Anthony Hart The Roaring Heart Podcast is a prophetic podcast reflecting the heart of the Holy Spirit in people. It’s a unique mix of interviews, prophetic declarations, prayers, heartfelt monologues, spoken word excerpts, and soaking...

The Power of Godly Words Over Another Life—and Yours

The Power of Godly Words Over Another Life—and Yours

Have the words that others have spoken over you ever significantly impacted you? Words can birth destinies on the inside of us and bring hope to our hearts for the future. They have the power to ignite our dreams and give life to our souls. At the same time, negative...

How You Can Foil the Plot Against Your Life

How You Can Foil the Plot Against Your Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus warned us that we have an enemy, and he is a thief. He steals our joy, purpose, peace and, if he can, our future. Jesus knew it was important to warn us...

Activating Introverts in Evangelism

Activating Introverts in Evangelism

 Many believers mistakenly think that evangelism is only for charismatic, extroverted personality types. If they aren’t called to be evangelists, they shrink back from sharing the gospel with the lost entirely. The scriptural reality is that fivefold ministers, and...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]