The word “discipleship” can carry a lot of baggage for many people. Some have been in church environments where lots of authoritarian abuses happened in the name of discipleship. Others have been taught that discipleship is what happens in a class for 3 months, but not a description of an ongoing way of living out your faith. And those that have no background in church, have likely only heard the word used in the context of weird cults and controlling religions.
Allow me to make this easier.
In a purely Biblical sense discipleship is mentoring. But it’s a kind of mentoring that looks like a master and apprentice than an instructor and pupil. Biblical discipleship is personal, relational, and mostly informal in nature. Biblical discipleship boils down to the simple act of helping someone else move closer to Jesus.
It’s not about where we are in life, or about the process. It’s about the goal, and the goal is to be more like Jesus. This is just as true in a modern day non denominational evangelical church context as it was in the time of the early church.
On a foundational level, this is what the Christian life is about. We are all journeying on together, growing in our relationship with Christ, and as we do so we become more like Him. This ongoing sanctification is by no means a solo activity. God set this up to work in groups, and to fail in isolation. We are a group by nature. We are at our best when we are together.
Perhaps the greatest example of what discipleship looks like is found in the way Jesus mentored His disciples (and then commissioned them to do the same). He instructed them, He walked with them, He corrected them, He led by example, and then He empowered them to do it themselves.
This means that everyone is a disciple-maker. Everyone is a mentor. This is what a missionary is. A missionary is a disciple making disciple. Spurgeon said that every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter. In other words, being involved in moving others closer to Jesus is what Christians do. There is no room for anything else.
What is the output of your life? How are you making disciples in your life? Next to your eternal destiny, there isn’t a more important question you could be asking.