How Do You Start Discipling?

Joel YbarraBlog, Discipleship

Are you in a discipleship relationship? A couple weeks ago, Pastor Nick challenged all Hopesters to enter into a discipleship relationship. Have you been praying for the Heavenly Father to make this clear for you?

As we foster a discipleship “movement” at Hope, we will be sending out regular communications to support and equip the Body to form these sorts of relationships. This, the first of such communications, will fittingly focus on how we start these relationships. There is no one set way discipleship relationships are formed. In fact, these relationships are already happening in the Body in many wonderful ways! We are simply seeking to inspire and spark discussion as we engage in these relationships.

One of the hang-ups we have when thinking about forming intentional discipleship relationships is “how do we ask someone to disciple us?” Or, even worse, “how do we ask someone to be our disciple?” It can be awkward initiating these relationships or putting a label on them. It’s like trying to label a friendship or a dating relationship. As you might know, people don’t make friends by introducing themselves to strangers and asking, “can we be friends?” Awkward! Doing this in the church might be just as weird!

Think of the best friends you have or even how you met your partner. How did you get to be friends or start dating? Most friendships and sometimes even dating relationships started because you and the other person were in the same place at the same time, you felt drawn toward them and you naturally started talking to them. You might have talked about what you were doing together, your families, your interests, or even a common complaint or problem.

With your closest friends, however, there was probably some point when you defined the relationship and started calling yourselves friends. The structure and expectations that come along with making a commitment to someone are actually part of what make the relationship fruitful. Jesus invited his disciples to “come follow me,” (a quite direct invitation), and they left their old lives to do so. It was no small commitment. These relationships were profoundly life-changing for the disciples because there was a commitment and they shared their lives.

But discipleship was a common expectation in the Jewish culture. It was expected that Jewish youths would identify a rabbi (or “teacher”) who they would follow and from whom they would learn. We are seeking to develop a culture in our Body where asking someone to be your discipler or disciple makes perfect sense. It should be normal for us to have someone whose example we are following, as we seek to set an example for others. It should not be awkward in the church to say “I need help” or “I would like to learn from you.”

Even now, a practical thing we can do to start moving toward discipling relationships is looking around and finding people after whom we might pattern our lives. Many of us have already identified people we are “following.” How can we put ourselves in positions to witness their lives up close, and perhaps share our lives? It might be as simple as going to lunch or playing Pickleball, talking about sports or kids or work. It might also be as simple as saying, “I would like to be discipled by you.”

We are going to make sure it’s a normal part of our culture to start and commit to discipleship. Would you join us in praying for this movement and would you be willing to take the first step towards a discipleship relationship?


Joel Ybarra