3 Reasons Why Relational Discipleship Works

The pandemic was an assessment of the church we didn’t quite see coming. No one asked for the truth, but reality spoke anyway.

Many Pastors and leaders share the same experiences. There was an influx of new seekers, but just as many chose not to return after restrictions eased.

We could focus on the good and explain the not so good away with well…the pandemic.

But what we see on the surface is the revealing of deeper things. We cannot blanket over the bad with the good. God never wastes a trial. Among many things, this pandemic has taught us to re-evaluate what discipleship is.

What is Relational Discipleship?

Traditional Discipleship

In churches today, discipleship is mass produced. Everyone attends the same services and classes regardless the age or season of life.

What is the unspoken philosophy behind these efforts? We can make disciples as long as everyone gets with the program. This is one size fits all. Everyone goes through the same path.

It is cost effective and time efficient, but what kind of disciples are we making?

Relational Discipleship

Relational Discipleship focuses on building a relationship with the disciple. It requires time spent between the disciple and the disciple-maker.

The disciple-maker influences the disciple through the relationship built over time. The disciple then follows the disciple-maker as he follows Christ. It is out of the lights and shouts of the seen but it is in the private, day to day, intimate moments of real life.

In other words, it takes time, energy and resources. It will be inconvenient and requires sacrifice. It means letting them into your life and you being a part of theirs.

It means it will get messy. But it will be oh so worth it. Because these relationships still influence even when the lights are out and the buildings are empty.

Here are 3 reasons why relational discipleship is the only way to make disciples.

  1. Jesus did it.

Jesus spent time with 12 men. He got to know them and let them get to know Him. They shared life together, the good and the bad, joys and the sorrows. The results? We are still living in the overflow of Jesus’ relational discipling today.

  1. It is how we obey the Greatest Commandment.

The greatest of all commandments is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. At the heart of the greatest commandment is relationships – to love God and love others. Relationship discipleship is how we live this out. Love made manifest – love made real and visible.

  1. It is the true indicator of growth and maturity.   

The evidence of a maturing disciple is the fruit of the Spirit. The purpose of fruit? For consumption! The only way we can taste the fruit is if we come close to one another. Relational discipleship brings us close – close enough to take a bite of your fruit and see how it tastes.

Where do I start?

If you are a Pastor or a leader reading this, you might be thinking, “How am I suppose to do this with everyone in the church?” It feels daunting, we know.

But all it takes is one relationship at a time. Focus on the people God has given you influence over. It could be a few leaders you trust and they trust you.

If you are a young minister or leader, ask God to identify someone you can begin this journey with. Start spending time with them, find out their needs, learn from them as they learn from you.

It begins with you.

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