The Anatomy of Discipleship

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discipleship: becoming more like Jesus by...
discipling: helping another person become more like Jesus by...
  • Followers of Jesus embrace and enter their own life of discipleship in a myriad of ways – devotional, contemplative, communal, sacramental, missional, practical, theological, and more.
  • Followers of Jesus embrace and enter the process of discipling others in a myriad of contexts – relational, conversational, missional, instructional, collaborative, and more.

Those a lot of different words, so let’s take a look at how we practically do that.  I like to think in terms of Discipleship Anatomy to help us identify and lean into these different contexts.

Face-to-Face

  • Meeting with a small group of people to talk about life and faith.
  • May include friendly chit-chat, discussion, prayer, Bible study, creative activities, etc.
  • (Relational. Conversational. Devotional. Instructional.)

Eye-to-Eye

  • Meeting one-on-one to encourage and guide someone towards personal development and spiritual growth.
  • May include everything in Face-to-Face, plus deeper levels of guidance, challenge, exhortation, encouragement, etc.
  • (Relational. Conversational. Devotional. Instructional. Pastoral.)

Knee-to-Knee

  • Specific eye-to-eye times of deep challenge, guidance, correction, affirmation, counsel, and heart-to-heart difficult conversations.
  • May include prayer, Bible study, deep conversation, pastoral listening, etc.
  • (Relational. Pastoral. Instructional. Exhortative.)

Side-by-Side

  • Activity-driven context for those who may not yet be ready or comfortable with solely face-to-face connection, who are still learning how to converse comfortably, or who need to move in order to focus.
  • May include play, action, competition, interspersed with questions, conversation, listening, etc.
  • (Relational. Active. With-ness. Conversational primer.)

Shoulder-to-Shoulder

  • Working together in service or mission.
  • (Relational. Missional. Collaborative. Service-centered. Sacrificial.)

Hand-in-Hand

  • Part of every discipleship/discipling context – the joining of two or more followers of Jesus in prayer, partnership, solidarity, and unity.
  • (Relational. Sacramental. Kingdom-focused. Other-centered. Communal.)

Heart-to-Heart

The mysterious beauty of all these contexts is this:  not only do leaders disciple their students and help them become more like Jesus, but students also disciple their leaders. As leaders listen, converse, respond, guide, encourage, and simply be with students, leaders themselves will become more like Jesus. In other words, the act of discipling others will circle back on itself so that spiritual growth flows both ways, and the hearts of everyone are changed. This is the most powerful and sacred discipling context of all. Let’s pursue it with a passion.

 

Written By Crystal Kirgiss, VP of Discipleship

crystal.kirgiss@comcast.net