Our Role as Guides

Sustainable Discipleship leverages several principles from Scripture when making disciples. We recognized,

  • The Word of God has the power to transform and save,
  • The Holy Spirit is the person who transforms the heart, and
  • Being a disciple is about following God, not communing with each other.

How do those principles affect how we guide disciples toward a life of following God?

  • We need to get the Words of God into the minds of would-be disciples,
  • We need disciples to hear (or learn to hear) from the Spirit, and
  • We need to stay focused on making individual disciples, even in groups.

When Jesus said,

Go unto all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them all I have taught you,

he was talking to folks who did not have the Word of God in printed form. In other words, if the disciples did not communicate God’s teachings to folks, those folks would never know God’s truths for living. The first disciple-makers had to teach.

Things are different now. We have the Words of God printed. Everyone can have access to them without a teacher. And God’s words are actually pretty easy to understand. The Bible is full of obvious do this, don’t do that, and think about this. God’s character is easy to see. The history of successful and failure followers illustrates the value of applying God’s truths. Add the fact that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to remind us and teach us, and we are left with a few great questions,

  • Do we need to teach them, or could they read it for themselves and digest it with the Holy Spirit?
  • Do we need to keep curating what we think disciples need to know, or could we just get all of God’s words in them and let God sort it out?
  • Do we need to foster sharing, accountability, and therapy communities, or could we just focus on getting folks to apply God’s truths to their lives?

Life groups and education have their place. But what would happen if folks were allowed to read and internalize His words a little at a time? What if we gave them all God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit curate what they need to know when they need to know it? What if we kept them focused on hearing from God and applying the obvious truths?

Participants in the Sustainable Discipleship groups often ask, “Where was this for all my Christianity? Why haven’t we been doing this before?” Leaders often say, “I feel like I am not really doing anything. There isn’t much preparation. I just facilitate a meeting, sit back, and watch people’s lives change.”

The results have been clear. Give them all the Word (we do this in a super creative way that disciples love), get them to hear what God is saying to them right then, and watch them change into prepared, confident, skilled, self-sustaining, self-replicating followers. It’s pretty incredible.

So what is our role in making disciples? We simply need to guide them on the journey. We must stay out of God’s way and let the disciple hear from God. We need to keep them from straying from the path. When they say, “To me, this means…” we need to be ready to challenge them and ask, “What does the verse say? Is there an applicable truth in it? What will you do?” We need to cheer them on when they highlight an incredible truth or fun observation. Quietly reinforcing their correct highlight. When they fail to read, we need to push them and remind them – reading is not a have-to; instead, it is for their best. When a disciple says, “I did not have time to read,” I love to ask, “Did you go to the bathroom this week? Did you eat? Did you watch TV? Are you sure you didn’t have time? Or did you simply not make God a priority? I am not trying to make you feel bad. I just want you to get the best out of life. And that happens when we put Him first.”

Guides help people do what they already can do in new places. Guides know the territory, the dangers, and the cool things. But the one being guided has to walk and learn on their own.

On a side note, when it comes to guiding, we believe there are a few things that discipleship guides should never do.

  • We are never their therapists. We leave that to the pros. We simply make disciples.
  • We don’t do accountability groups. We push disciples to be accountable to God and His truths. We trust God to get them.
  • We don’t do best friends. We are discipleship leaders when we lead. Our goal is to lead, not be besties.
  • We don’t teach or talk unless the Holy Spirit prompts. This is not our discipleship. It is theirs.
  • We don’t share our highlights. Again, this is not our discipleship moment. The moment is between the disciple and the Father.

If you get a chance, check out the section Preparing Yourself in How to Make Disciples. You can also sign up for a live or on-demand workshop where we expand on how to prepare to guide your best d-group ever.

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Challenging words to help make prepared, confident, and skilled followers of God.

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