There used to be a cute saying: “God couldn’t be everywhere, so He made mothers.” The theology might be better expressed as “God is everywhere, but He works through mothers (and fathers).”
What we refer to as “relational disciple making” is not a program.
There are books about it, just like there are books about parenting– but you don’t become a parent by reading books.
There are materials that might aid you in doing it, just like there are things you might find helpful as a parent–but you aren’t a good parent because you have the right materials.
The core idea is that someone who is immature in their faith, like someone who is immature physically, needs protection and help from someone who has “been there and done that,” and maybe has the scars to prove it.
It is simply one believer saying to another “I will help you if you would like me to…” and another believer saying “maybe I do need some help.”
No program will do that. No program really can. There is no one “right way” to do it.
But, like a loving parent, there is no substitute for it.
God makes disciples, but He works through disciples to make disciples.
Paul describes it in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8
For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
In Ephesians 1:16-17, Paul says “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him…”
Following Paul’s example, we can pray for those we care about without ceasing, that God will grant a KNOWLEDGE of His glory to them. Only God can reveal His glory to His people, but He deigns to use the prayers of other believers to this end.
Paul says more about the same topic in Philippians 1:9-11– “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Paul prays for those whom he cares about, that their LOVE would grow. He prays for their KNOWLEDGE of God. He prays for their DISCERNMENT. The goal is for the holiness of those for whom he is praying, and that they will be fruitful in glorifying Christ in their lives.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 he says “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you.”
Prayer is an essential tool in being used by God to make disciples for His glory.
There are three types of ministry generally in the church (inwardly to build up one another in Christ). Christ engaged in all three. The third we are calling “Incidental Encouragement and Exhortation.” This one occurs when Saints come together for myriads of reasons, perhaps to share a meal or to help one another. It really doesn’t matter the circumstance, but when we come together, we are to encourage and exhort one another in Christ.
This was Paul’s desire in wanting to be with the Saints. For instance, to the Roman believers he wrote,
Romans 1:11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
And to the Thessalonians he wrote,
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
We do this when we get together and while together encourage one another and spur one another on to love and good works by discussing the word of God, recalling to mind the blessed promises of our Lord and reminding one another of our position in Christ.
It is something we ought to do anytime we are together with another saint and for any reason. Here is a picture of a number of saints sharing a meal at our church today. May God have blessed their conversation that they would leave encouraged in the faith and exhorted to faithful living in Christ.
Pastor Al writes- ]
Lord willing, we will begin a series during our Sunday School hour which will address the three types of ministry in the Church. These three were all found in Christ’s ministry and must be found in ours if we are to produce mature disciples. Many churches have two out of the three and this is an issue I believe. Each one is biblical, each one has its own strengths, but by themselves each one is not enough to get the job done. Stay tuned for more on this one.
You don’t have to run a seminary to make disciples. Invite someone over for dinner (or out to dinner) and ask them how things are going spiritually. Encourage them from the Bible. Encourage them to read their Bible. Get them a Bible if they don’t have one. Then follow up with them. Be an example to them.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
(I Timothy 4:12)