Real Life Discipleship: converts or disciples?

I was talking to someone the other day who reminded me that we’re called to make disciples not converts….This got me thinking, how am I discipling others?

Most people in our Simple Church (Missional Community) spend the majority of their time in the week in work. From experience I believe there is a real opportunity to disciple people we work with by speaking truth into situations our colleagues are going through, giving wise and Godly counsel, living life differently (better?!). There is an opportunity to train people in the ways of the Lord – even if they are not yet aware of it! I look at Jesus’ life. Often he taught the crowds – explaining how to live life differently, better; highlighting the important things in HIS kingdom. I’m sure, like some of our colleagues, not everyone in the crowd knew who Jesus was, yet he taught and discipled them.

Then there were the 12. The 12 got to see Jesus on good days and bad days. They got to ask the questions on their minds and get the parables explained. Some of my colleagues have become good friends. We regularly eat dinner together at each other’s houses and share the ups and downs of life. With these friends I get to share my answers to prayers and talk about what having a faith means to me – it gets personal. As I have shared my life with my friends, they reflect on theirs and are now starting to ask their own questions about God and explore what having faith in God means.

Then there was James, John and Peter. Jesus sometimes invited these 3 disciples to go alone with him into particular places and situations. There was a higher level of invitation with these disciples but with that came a higher level of challenge. In our Simple Church we have accountability groups. These are single sex groups of 2 or 3 people. We try and meet weekly (at a separate time to our Simple Church gathering) to exhale the rubbish and sin in our lives through confession to each other and to the Lord and then inhale the word of God.  It’s challenging. As people join our Simple Church – whether they are new Christians or have been Christians for a while they will be invited into an accountability group as this is the place of intentional discipleship. It’s a high bar – confessing your sin/weakness to others is not easy yet there is invitation to go deeper with each other and with God.

As I have reflected on how I disciple others I have concluded that discipleship is not remote. If we want to make disciples and see lives change we need to live life close to people who don’t yet know Jesus – the closer they are to you, the more they get to see Jesus. The closer they are, the higher the challenge.

So, have a think about your week. How much time are you spending with people who don’t yet know Jesus? Could you invite them to spend more time with you? Could you talk about your faith more with your friends or colleagues?

Dawn Wilson lives in Sheffield with her husband James and her new baby girl Olive. They are part of the wider leadership team for city:base – one of the Network Church Sheffield bases. Dawn is a speech and language therapist though currently enjoying maternity leave!