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One-to-one discipleship is a dying art form

Ask any group of Christians how many of them have been discipled and you won’t see many hands raised. Ask the same group how many are discipling someone and you’ll likely get the same results. What’s going on here? How come the one thing Jesus asked us to do before he left the earth is something …
By Seth Barnes

Ask any group of Christians how many of them have been discipled and you won’t see many hands raised. Ask the same group how many are discipling someone and you’ll likely get the same results. What’s going on here? How come the one thing Jesus asked us to do before he left the earth is something we don’t do?

We all want to feel special. The need to be noticed, to count or stand out to one other person is hard-wired in us all. It finds its fullest expression in the relationship between a mom and her infant. The studies show us that it’s not just the simple sucking of breast milk and the nutrition it provides, it’s the physical touch and focused attention of that mother that calls forth the life force within a baby. The baby’s body hungers for the milk; the baby’s soul hungers for the sheer connection with mom.

As we grow and are buffeted by life’s hurts, we hear a conflicting message over and over again, “
You’re not special. You’re ugly and flawed and need to perform in order to be loved.” The message is the same, but we all hear it in a way that feels secret and isolating, as though we’re the only abnormal one, the runt of the litter shunted to the side.

And so, the discipler’s one-on-one meeting is salve to a wounded soul. It works a deep magic over time. It whispers “You’re special to me” in ways that dissolve the lies that have scabbed over the old wounds.

The efficiency expert or the type A-run-amok or the diffident soul will pale at this analysis. They will find reasons to disciple in bigger groups. But only the deep magic of a one-on-one will do.

We are God with skin on. He doesn’t come to us with a one-size fits all message. He touches the tender parts of our innermost being, the private places that we dare not admit to anyone, even ourselves. He comes to us and with the tenderness of a mother, whispers, “You
are special. Don’t believe the lies.”

As God’s representatives, we not only steward His message, but His methods. We don’t whip out the bullhorn to blare the news of another person’s specialness. We come with a personal touch that communicates in ways that words never could.

Committing time and attention to one other person is an act of great bravery. It states, “I will be like God to you. I will show you in ways that you can feel, ways that are your reality, what God thinks about you. It’s what our mother whispered to us, what we knew all along: “
You are special!”

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