Well said Seth! I would affirm what you said in many ways. You can use a book or the Bible or whatever, the book can’t be a crutch. Instead it is more like a diving board. I think that is why most people don’t feel like they were ever discipled, though they might have been in many small groups. If the curriculum is the end of the relationship, then it misses the point of discipleship.
Is written curriculum a waste of time?
When I wrote in a recent blog that we are to be the discipleship curriculum and that Jesus did most of his discipling by hanging out, Kara expressed what many of you felt when she said, “I have been thinking “How am I going to disciple people?” I have never had anyone disciple me.”
So what’s the point of discipleship curriculum? This begs the question: Do we just trash all the stuff we’ve bought over the years?
My answer is, no, that would be to swing the pendulum too far the other way. Written curriculum can be useful as a piece of your discipleship relationship. After all, Bible study is an important part of discipleship. And a good curriculum book can help you to better understand how the Bible applies to your life.
A while back I wrote the book A Warrior’s Journal to help prepare a team I was taking to the mission field. I wanted to make sure that we’d covered some ministry foundations and it worked great for me. The real discipleship came later when we arrived on the field and I spent a month with them, that’s when we actually “did the stuff.” But the curriculum helped us get to the point where that was possible.
The other thing written curriculum can do for you is give you a basis to take a would-be disciple further in an intentional relationship. In other words, if someone wants to grow and the two of you need to talk about something to facilitate that growth, written curriculum can help. That said, please understand, the pendulum has swung way too far in the direction of Navigators Bible studies and the like as the sole basis for a discipleship relationship.
Discipleship must first be rooted in relationship. You ARE the curriculum. And, if you need something to help you and someone you know who wants to grow go somewhere together, then please, buy a Navigators study. But make that maybe 30% of the relationship. Or use it to break the ice and then take the relationship into the realm of normal human behavior – go to a football game, a coffee shop, a mission trip. When the disciple watches you modeling your faith, that’s when their spiritual growth will really begin to take off.
Bottom line: use a written study to practice intentionality, but don’t stop there thinking you’ve accomplished much just because you made it through a curriculum. Use that as a bridge to real discipleship and be prepared to invest years and years to get the job done. I call it “the 15,000 hour project.”
My offer: I’ll disciple you if you’ll disciple a few others
To help make this practical, I’m going to make an offer to those of you wanting to practice intentionality in discipling a few people for a couple of months. I want to help kickstart you on your path as a discipler and the web can help us. If you’ll pray about it and make the offer to 3-7 potential people, then email me (click the link above). I’ll put you on a list and will model this for you for the next two months or so.
A Warrior’s Journal costs $22.95, but I’ll give it to you in increments for free. It is designed to be a five minute read followed by a time of prayer. I’ll email you during the weekdays. You can forward it on to those you’ve recruited to go through this with you. They need to talk to you or email you about any questions they’ve got along the way. The point is, you help them process it and grow.
I’ll need to cap my involvement with those I disciple, so I’ll involve a number of my own disciples and get them to work with you if more of you sign up than I can handle. The point is that you get to practice helping others to grow and take some steps in deepening your relationship with them. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.
Ditto. I sent you an e-mail too. I am a youth leader in my church working with teens and I would like to disciple some of them too in addition to my own children and spouse.
This is so true! There is no subsitute for loving someone, believing in someone, listening to them, praying for and being there for them. You can teach on Jesus washing the disciple’s feet til the cows come home but the chances are they are likely to learn as much or more by being served in a Christlike manner. Truth is essential, but speaking is not the only effective way of communicating it.
Seth, I would be very interested in being involved with this. I will email you directly from my office.
Thank you. Don