Let me start off by being perfectly clear. I don’t like discipleship programs. But no, I am not saying I do not like discipleship. I believe that discipleship is key to Kingdom Come. It is clear to see that the Church has massively failed to provide true discipleship which has resulted in fake, shallow and powerless Christianity. So let me start my list of “6 Reasons Why Discipleship Programs Don’t Work” and suggest some things we can do to disciple others well.
Discipleship Programs Don’t Work because:
They don’t see discipleship as Sonship. Jesus revealed God as Daddy. He taught His disciples to pray to Daddy. He said we must be born again. The Spirit we receive brings about our adoption to sonship.We read that all of creation is groaning in eager expectation for the children of God to manifest. Discipleship is about learning who we are. It is about sonship. When discipleship programs focus primarily on behaving a certain way or believing the right doctrines, they miss out on the deeper. True Discipleship is about learning who you are as a son/daughter of God so you can manifest your new identity.
They focus on Head Knowledge – not Heart Transformation. Discipleship programs that focus on theology, or behaviour are simply shallow. Jesus said that it was out of the heart the mouth speaks. Therefore, if we want people to fall in love with Jesus, serve Him, be free and do well in life, then they need to have their hearts transformed. Jesus said we must “Repent and Believe” – but this can only happen if something stirs our hearts. Our heart will not be transformed by simply hearing truth. But it will change when you experience truth. True discipleship is about Heart Transformation.
They are often led by someone with positional authority and not relational authority. If Discipleship then is about Heart Transformation, then you need an environment where you can be raw, and authentic so you can actually deal with the stuff in your heart. There must be trust and vulnerability. If the person who is discipling you is only doing so because of their leadership position you will not feel comfortable to open up, be real and show the real you – the ugly you. Not only that, but the leader won’t open up either. You don’t get to see the leader at their worst and learn from their life experiences. This results in everyone feeling like everyone else is perfect but you have to wear a mask in case someone sees what is beneath the surface. Therefore, true Discipleship must be done in the context of real relationship.
- They don’t focus on normal life like family, work and pleasure. Most discipleship programs are centred around theology and Bible study. They unintentionally promote a separation between spiritual and normal. It means discipleship is seen as just a spiritual exercise, but the realities of work, family and pleasure remain seperate. The truth however, is that everything is spiritual. True discipleship does not seperate spiritual from the normal.
- They occur at a set time and are not spontaneous. When discipleship occurs at a set time it promotes a separation between the spiritual and normal. It means that lessons are learned in a class room type environment and not fleshed out in the realities of life. When teaching a child we don’t sit them down and say, “Today we are going to learn not to take our anger out on others.” Any parent would know that that is a long life lesson that will be taught as pressures rise and situations come along. True Discipleship needs to occur in the every day life as situations pop up so that real learning can take place.
- The person discipling has not been discipled well. One of the biggest reasons why there is a lack of true discipleship in churches, is because there have been very few people who have actually been discipled to know what it is really about. Discipleship Programs are a cheap substitute for a life of learning sonship, of sharing relationship, and doing life together. Sure, they are easier to run, they are less messy, and easier to be controlled. But true discipleship can only occur when we go all in, release control and allow life to come at us – worts and all! Only true discipleship will make true disciples, who can then go and do like wise.
So that is my “6 Reasons Why Discipleship Programs Don’t Work.” Obviously I have generalised to make my points, and many people reading this will mostly agree. But Do you agree? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear your thoughts. So comment below and let’s do all we can to incite a Heart Revolution!