Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
My friend and I were having a discussion about discipleship: what it is and what it is not. We came to the conclusion in our churches discipleship has become a trivial part of our christian walk; even though we may have discipleship initiatives. Funny isn't it. The very thing that is meant to strengthen us is what is put on the back burner. Looking at the church in whole here is what the church in general does with each new convert. (1) Get them "saved" (2) Take them through a new believers class (3) Place them in some sort of ministry or in a small leadership roll. I don't see anything wrong with any of these individually. Don't get me wrong; I am a guy who loves to evangelize. I will throw out seed until I have nothing left to throw. But what happened to the seed that landed everywhere else but the fertile soil? It got choked, scorched, and eaten. Without proper care our people will be too burdened, burnt out or devoured by the enemy.
So where is the discipleship? Churches need volunteers and lay people but to what extent? I see more clearly why the majority of our youth start drinking and having sex, if they haven't already, when they go to secular colleges. They don't have a good foundation and they are burnt out on their faith. Also, it is why the deacon is sleeping with the church secretary and why the pastor fell from grace. Because we have not trained our "soldiers" to fight. They are missing a very crucial part of their training...the training.
Why can't our students defend their faith? Well, it could be because they don't know what they believe. We think discipleship is setting a solid devotional life. That is not accurate. A devotional life consists of Bible reading/study and prayer correct? Those things are good but they are not signs of a disciple. Those things, without decreasing their important value, are genetic instincts we should have as a Christian. Because I am a Christian I should pray and read the Word. Just as it is my instinct to get something to drink when I am thirsty or eat when I am hungry so should it be with prayer and Bible reading with Christians.
Discipleship is how we live "coram Deo" (before the face of God). Every God given moment of our lives we should portray and develop the fruits of the Spirit. Are we desiring to be more like Him or just enough like Him to get to heaven? Coram Deo is how we live under His authority, how we live to honor and worship God. Discipleship goes beyond memorizing scripture...it is the holy scriptures living through us. Every thought we have, every word we speak, and every action we make is based on our desire to honor God. Discipleship must be more than an initiative. It must be more than a class. It must be a lifestyle. We don't become a disciple at a certain point in which we have reached the pinnacle of understanding. It is a lifestyle that is life-long.