Introduction to Discipleship

Discipleship is the process in which a person matures toward Christlikeness.  As we relate to people there are various methods that may be employed to move a person toward being more and more like Jesus.

Disciple literally means student.  The disciples of Jesus were students of Jesus.  We often used the words disciples and apostles interchangeably because they apply to mostly the same people but they are different things entirely.  Apostles are those who are sent with a purpose.  When Jesus commissioned the disciples and sent them into the world, they were no longer students but rather messengers of the gospel.

As Christians today we face a dual work.  We are still students of the Word but we too have been commissioned to spread the gospel.  Because of this, we need to be constantly studying but we also should not neglect the work that God has called us to.

Jesus used no less than four ways to disciple other people.  Each technique required a different approach and a different level of spiritual maturity.  Like just about everything in life, we will find that we may be better at one type of discipleship than another.

The four methods of discipleship are: Modeling, Mentoring, Instructing, Coaching.  They may sound like all the same thing, but they are very different approaches to teaching someone.


Modeling is the easiest way to disciple someone.  They do not need to be aware that you are modeling for them or have any desire to be discipled.  Modeling can be done for both the non-Christian and the Christian.  As we discussed in evangelism, modeling is letting your light shine so that others may see it.

Look at the model Jesus set at the Last Supper in John 13:12-15.  What was he trying to teach?  Do you think the message got through? 

Modeling is the most passive way of discipleship and anyone should be capable of doing it.  In fact, we should be modeling the Christian life wherever we go.

1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “Whether you eat of drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Just like in evangelism however, we can be negative models.  How do we cause someone to grow in the Lord if we complain about the pastor behind his back or bad mouth another Christian in the church?  What is the example that is set by such action?

As we examine mentoring, instructing, and coaching in the future we will see that modeling is not the only way to disciple – and it may not be the most effective for what we want to accomplish.  However, it is a way to have an effect on someone who doesn’t necessarily want to learn about God.  Ideally, through our modeling, a person will grow in Christ and will be able to be brought into a mentoring, instructing, or coaching relationship.

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