Discipleship involves the faithful pursuit of life-on-life relationships within the church as the Holy Spirit uses every follower of Christ to stimulate a greater love for God and other people through a growing understanding of God as He is revealed in the Scriptures, resulting in greater service in the church. Discipleship is a life-style, not an activity or a program. In other words, a disciple attracts other believers, expands their love for Christ, prepares them to fulfill their unique role/function in the church, and sends them out to employ their gifts by serving and discipling others.
Discipleship is more concerned with the formation of Godly character than adherence to an established code of conduct. In addition, the extent of discipleship is driven by relationships and not by requirements.
The Discipleship Philosophy
A.Win -Discipleship involves the faithful pursuit of life-on-life relationships within the church. This Spirit-led pursuit seeks those who are struggling to engage in the ministry of the church by developing meaningful relationships that encourage spiritual maturity. Pursuing relationships requires prayerful considerationof the people God has placed in your sphere of influence. It also requires compassion for others around you and a genuine concern for their spiritual welfare that actively cares for their needs.
ØGod’s pursuit of Abraham (Gen 12:1-3)
ØGod’s pursuit of Israel (Ex 2:23-25; 40:34-48)
ØGod’s pursuit in sending Christ: Jesus is the sent one who displayed God’s glory in human flesh (John’s entire Gospel).
ØJesus’ pursuit of the twelve disciples (Luke 5:1-10)
ØGod’s pursuit of the world (Acts 1:8; 8:1-4; 2 Pet 3:9-10)
ØGod’s compassionate action for sinful humanity (Luke 10; 15)
ØGod’s pursuit of heart transformation by sending the Spirit (John 3; 14:25-26; 16:5-7; Jer 31; Ezek 36-37; Gal 5:19-25)
B.Build -Discipleship invests one disciple’s time, energy, and resources for the sake of others. This investment is devoted to the study and application of God’s Word, prayer for one another, and the opencommunication of the trials and triumphs that each person experiences in their relationship with God. It is also dedicated to guiding others to accurately align their understanding of God with Scripture (head) while exciting a fervent love for Him (heart). This combination empowered by the Holy Spirit yields the fruit of God’s character in greater obedience and service in the church (hands).
ØScripture is God’s instrument for teaching, correction, reproof, and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).
ØScripture is God’s instrument pointing us to Christ and ultimately to who God is (Heb 1:1-4; John 5:38-40; Luke 24:25-32)
ØHow we think about God shapes how we respond to God (Rom 6:1-18; 12:1-2; Eph 4:17-24; Phil 2:5-11; Col 3:2; 1 Pet 2:1-3)
ØLove for God and others is essential and eternal (Deut 6:4-5; 1 Tim 1:5; 6:11; John 13-17; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:22-23; 1 Cor 13; 1 Thess 3:11-13; 2 Tim 2:20-22; Heb 10:23-25)
ØLove for God results in obedience (John 14:15, 24; 1 John 4:7-5:4)
C.Equip -Discipleship arms other believers through training, encouragement, and service opportunities where they can exercise their spiritual gifts. Those actively using their spiritual gifts to strengthen Christ’s church should impart the wisdom and experience God has given them to energize others with the same gift(s). This aspect of discipleship provides focused attention on the identification and employment of the specific spiritual gift(s) within the context of personal relationships.
ØGod provides spiritual gifts for the health and strength of Christ’s Church (Eph 4; 1 Pet 4; Rom 12; 1 Cor 12)
ØEncouragement is essential to service in the church (1 Thes 5:11-14; Tit 2:3-4; Heb 3:12-14)
ØEncouragement is most effective in the context of a mentor relationship (1 Tim 4:14-16; 2 Tim 1:6, 13-14; 2:2)
D. Plant - Discipleship sends other believers on a mission to establish new relationships that will reproduce the spiritual growth they have experienced in the lives of others. Those who disciple others will desire to sow what God has implanted in their own lives into the lives of others. As disciples mature and grow they are prepared (built), positioned (equip), and launched to disciple others.
ØAfter a period of preparation Jesus sent out the disciples (Matt 10; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-20; Mark 6:7-13; John 17:18-20; Acts 1:8)
ØGod implants His character and life in us through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:1-7; 5:1-2; James 1:17-18; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Rom 8)
ØGod’s work of redemption frees us to serve/love one another (Gal 5:13; 1 Pet 1:22-23; 1 John 3:10-12; 4:7-12; 2 John 5)
ØThe pursuing nature of God motivates our going (cf. Win above)
ØThe commitment of every disciple is reproduction (Matt 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:6-11)
The Main Instruments of Discipleship
A.Head -How we think about God is vital to the pursuit of Christ-likeness. Our understanding of God’s holiness and the glory of Christ frames our portrait of holy living. For this reason Scripture calls for a complete renovation of the mind that transforms the way we think about God and our own sin.
Biblical Basis: Rom 6; Rom 12:1-2; Gal 5; Eph 5; 1 Pet 2
B. Heart -Our affections determine our decisions/life choices. Spiritual transformation takes place as the heart is set free from bondage to sin so that it can be fully devoted to God. As the Holy Spirit illumines the eyes of the believer to truly see God, they will be drawn to deeper love and commitment to Him.
Biblical Basis: Deut 6:4-5; Jer 31; Ezek 36-37; John 3; John 13-17; Eph 5; Gal 5; Rom 7-8; 1 Pet 2
C.Hands-True worship incorporates service as the tangible expression of a united head and heart. God’s redemptive purpose for every believer is the fulfillment of various roles and ministries within the body of Christ. God entrusts us with spiritual gifts so that we would delight to use them for His own glory.
Biblical Basis: Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4; 1 Pet 4; Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; John 13-17
What is Bethany Discipleship Ministries (BDM)? Since Bethany places such a high value on personal discipleship, we have created a formal ministry structure which administers and oversees various aspects of personal discipleship at Bethany.BDM is led by the Associate Pastor of Evangelism & Discipleship, who works closely with two important committees (the Women’s Discipleship Committee [Titus 2 ministries] & the Men’s Discipleship Committee [2 Timothy 2 ministries]) to encourage and facilitate discipleship in the church.
Each discipleship committee is comprised of committee members who serve as a point-of-contact for our pool of qualified Disciple-Makers (mature Christians who serve as spiritual mentors to people who wish to be discipled and eventually to become Disciple-Makers themselves).The discipleship committee members have a number of important functions, such as 1) they encourage each Disciple-Maker to pray and to ask God to lay on his/her heart various people to be discipled; 2) they serve as a resource for Bethany Disciple-Makers to ask questions of in unique discipling situations; 3) they track the progress of discipleship throughout the church; and 4) the committee members connect people who desire to be discipled with a qualified Disciple-Maker.