Ready for the Discipleship Journey

by Bill Hull

I once spoke with a pastor who had just attended a conference with his staff on discipleship. He was highly motivated, so he approached me for advice. “After this week, I need to do something,” he said. “I have eight of my pastors with me, and we need to go home and come up with something to impact our congregation. What do you suggest?”

I waited for about thirty seconds before answering. Then I told him to wait a bit more while I thought and prayed about his situation. After several minutes, I answered him. “Nothing,” I said. “Don’t start any programs, don’t make announcements, and don’t do anything public.”

He seemed puzzled and confused. “What do you mean, Bill? Do nothing at all?”

I explained, “You should go home, get around a table with your eight pastors, and ask them to go with you on a personal journey of discipleship for one full year. Then if you think your desire is real and that you truly have something to offer the church, invite others to join you on the journey.”

I said this because I knew that journeying with his eight pastors would require patience, self-discipline, restraint, vulnerability, submission, grace, trust, confession, and a great deal of bonding. This year-long activity would be an act of courage as well, because in the eyes of most people, it would not look like they were doing much. It would just be eight people, not some flashy new program or event to sign up hundreds.

But this is where we start and “make our bones” as a disciple-making pastor. It’s the hard thing we must do to find out if we are really in to disciple-making for the long haul. Start small. Disciple a few. And you will reveal the state of your soul as you open your life up to others. You will be exposed in ways you otherwise would have never been on display. In my experience, most pastors just aren’t ready for this.


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This excerpt has been adapted from Conversion and Discipleship.

Image credit: Unsplash.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Jim Woodring wrote:
Being just a lay person in a medium size church I can only speak from personal observations and private Bible study. I think it is excellent advice to suggest starting from the top down approach and devotion of a year in exercising "patience, self-discipline, restraint, vulnerability, submission, grace, trust, confession, and a great deal of bonding." However, I see one element of spiritual disciple missing: growing in our love for God and for others. I see many churches today lacking in knowledge of the Love of God and the modeling of the Love of God toward others both inside and outside the church. Much of the Church today is not unlike the Church of Ephesus mentioned in Rev. 2 for we have forsaken our first love. How often does the church teach and preach the two greatest commandments to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, spirit, and mind and to love our neighbor as our self? Can we ever focus too much on this message? One of the best books on this topic I've read recently is a small book written to the Church by Alexander Strauch titled "Love or Die". It is an excellent book in my humble opinion. Never have I underlined so much of a book. Spiritual disciplines are essential for spiritual growth but, there are no better disciplines, in my humble opinion, than those listed in 1 Corth. 13:4-7. When we daily exercise and practice patience, kindness, rejoicing with the truth, always protecting, trusting , hoping, and persevering in our loving relationships, and avoiding intentionally those things that love is not, then and most likely only then, will we as a Church overcome this loss of love that permeates many churches today to the point that the church it has little or not impact on the world outside its doors.

Thu, August 31, 2017 @ 7:18 AM

2. Noah Angel wrote:
Thanks brother for that advise. It's exactly what I needed right now. I don't have 8 pastors, but I have 2 faithful men.
Regards and many blessings.

Noah Angel
Jefferson City, MO

Thu, August 31, 2017 @ 8:36 AM

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