DISCIPLESHIP – PART THREE: ONE-ON-ONE DISCIPLING
© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2014
While, as we have seen, people learn how to live for Jesus in a variety of contexts, and that these broader contexts are the biblical norm, we need to look at the concept of one-on-one discipling. With a number of destructive and dictatorial concepts of discipling around it is important, indeed vital, to make sure that what we are doing when we engage in one-on-one discipling is within the biblical boundaries, and not degenerating into a control mechanism on the part of the church leadership or on the part of the disciplers.
A. THE PURPOSE OF ONE-ON-ONE DISCIPLING
The purpose of one-on-one discipling is:
- To teach the Christian the Word of God.
- To encourage and enable the Christian to live in such a way that his/her words and lifestyle will glorify God.
- To encourage and enable the Christian to so live that his/her words and lifestyle will affect others towards acknowledging and honouring the Lord.
- To equip the person being taught to teach others what he/she has learned.
One-on-one discipling will also encourage and train the Christian in:
- The study of God’s Word
- Involvement in worship and prayer
- Involvement in fellowship with other believer
- Involvement in some area of Christian service
- Involvement in the outreach, evangelism or mission activities of the church.
B. THE PROFILE OF A DISCIPLE
A disciple is a believer – one who has placed his/her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As a believer, the disciple is keen to learn all he/she can about the Lord, and with a desire to live for him and his glory.
What do these scriptures teach about the attitude of a disciple?
C. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES?
When we look at Jesus we can get some tips about how to teach and train disciples.
Discuss the way Jesus taught and trained his disciples and how he prepared them for, and involved them in ministry. Note your conclusions below.
D. WHAT DO YOU DO IN A DISCIPLING SESSION?
A common discipling practice is for the discipler and the person being discipled to meet for one hour each week. Each weekly session should contain all or most of the following components:
Prayer is recommended at both the beginning and the end of the session – to seek God’s help and direction firstly for the session, then lastly for the coming week.
This segment is included by some. It gives both parties an opportunity to share what God has taught them or done for them in or through their times of Bible reading and prayer during the past week. Some people suggest that both the teacher and the learner follow the same Bible reading program.
D.3 Check on work set
In some one-on-one discipling sessions ‘homework’ is set. This may consist of memorizing scripture verses or passages, working on questions in the study book, and/or practical tasks to be implemented in the life or ministry of the person being discipled.
D.4 Do the lesson
In one-on-one discipling a study book is usually used. This book should be appropriate to the spiritual maturity of the person being discipled. A new convert should be started on something basic such as Christianity Explained. The next step should cover the foundations of Christian belief and practice. After that a wide range of topics can be covered that enable the Christian to dig deeper into understanding the truth and take him/her further in their commitment to glorify and serve God.
The teacher will take the learner through the material in the study book, teaching, helping the learner towards the biblical answers, discussing issues raised, pointing out the relevance of both truths and commands for faith and action.
D.5 Set tasks
Tasks to be completed by the learner during the week are set. These may be completion of answers in the study book, scripture memorization, reading ahead in next week’s study, practical implication of principles or commands in the life of the learner.
E. TRAINING TO SERVE
Some churches include training for service in their discipling plan. Where this happens the teacher trains the learner to serve in a particular area by demonstration and involvement. This follows the pattern:
I do it – and you are watching me.
I do it – and you are assisting me.
You do it – and I am assisting you.
You do it – and I am observing you.
You do it alone.
You do it – and someone else is watching you. … etc
Ideally, by this method, the learner in time becomes the teacher of another.
F. WHAT NOT TO DO IN ONE-ON-ONE DISCIPLING
As we have already seen in the previous session there are serious dangers in one-on-one discipling. There are also some common pitfalls which, although not dangerous, can prevent any serious learning taking place.
Discuss the ‘do nots’ below. Indicate what problems would or could arise from doing these ‘do nots’.
Do not regard the person you are teaching as ‘my disciple’
Do not regard the person you are teaching as accountable to you. We are each accountable to God. It is his commands we have to obey, not each others.
Do not let the discipling hour turn into a gossip session.
Do not let the discipling session turn into a pity party.
Do not spend more time talking about personal experiences than you spend studying the Word.
Do not consider yourself a failure if the learner fails to grow as a Christian as fast as you think he/she should.
Do not allow the learner to become dependent on you.
Do not disciple a person of the opposite sex, unless you are married to that person, or a relative of the person.
Do not allow the discipling session to become a substitute for attendance at church worship services.
Add any further ‘do nots’ that you have identified in your Christian experience.