Let’s Get Simple: How To Disciple
In this article, Danielle Pathak, Spiritual Formation and Staff Pastor for the Mile High Vineyard in Denver, CO, shares practical advice on how to disciple the people around you.
Spiritual Formation & Staff Pastor, Mile High Vineyard
To disciple is a commandment of our faith, but it can be one of the most challenging things to do within your life with God.
In Matthew 28, Jesus commissioned His own disciples to “do what I taught you.” But do you really think they knew what to do? After all, learning and teaching someone else how to do something are two very different skill sets.
A couple years ago, The Barna Group released a report on discipleship that reported only 1% of all church leaders thought their churches were doing well with forming disciples. It’s challenging! And our communities and churches look to us as ministry leaders to see how this actually works.
What does discipleship of other women and men look like in your own life? Often these very personal hurdles need to be addressed:
How do I find someone who would be interested?
What do I do with that person?
How can I tell if he/she is changing and becoming more like Jesus?
A couple of the greatest attributes of someone who wants to learn is that they display a lot of desire and a bit of desperation. Desire can fuel the hard work of growing and is the underpinning of discipline. To want to become more like Jesus will never be something that you can teach a person. Desire usually goes hand in hand with desperation—desperation for a better way to live life and have relationships, to have more meaning, and to ultimately become everything God wants us to become.
Uncovering Inner Motivations
Uncovering the inner motivations of a person takes a bit of time and patience. We, as leaders, need to be thoughtful as we hear a person’s story, as we uncover their joys as well as their sorrows. Everyone learns in various ways and feels passionate about different things. Every man and woman is different, so every discipleship journey needs to look beautifully unique. Oftentimes, we want to replicate our own journey in someone else, and it takes maturity to pause and ask God what He would like to do inside of that person. Other journeys might look very different from your process, and that’s ok!
A couple months ago, our leadership team of several pastors took a few days to ask ourselves this question: What makes a good disciple? It was a crucial process after many years of ministry building. There was a bit of debating and personal stories were shared. Some of us placed certain qualities and disciplines higher on the list than others, as they were more meaningful to our own journeys (prayer, worship, forgiveness, etc). Until you can answer this question for yourself, you won’t know what you are actually asking a disciple to commit to. The process will be ambiguous and challenging for everyone involved.
Ask yourself this additional question: How do you actually learn how to worship or forgive one another? Get as practical as you can with real-life application—not everyone will read 15 books on forgiveness, but they will probably remember when you walked with them through a real-life example! Every disciple needs a measurable plan, a set intention with goals and ways to see how these godly truths and spiritual disciplines are taking root in their lives.
The most effective way to encourage another person in their life with Jesus is to show them how YOU learn and what God has been teaching you. As ministry leaders and pastors, we cannot forget that we give out of the overflow of our own lives. Discipleship is quite an honor we have been given by Jesus—that we can actually sit down with people who want to learn and grow AND give testimony to all that God has done in their lives!
Encouragement For The Discipleship Journey
My encouragements are these:
- Be thoughtful, wise, and aware of the person sitting in front of you.
- Have your own transformation be evident and on display.
- Have patience with the process of discipleship.
To learn more about the Mile High Vineyard in Denver, CO, visit their website here.