Discipleship can be a mysterious topic in churches. How do we do it well? What does it look like? Is it a formal didactic lecture or an informal hang time? Dever, as he tends to do well, simplifies the mystery in his book “Discipling” he provides a working definition of discipleship as quite simply “helping others follow Jesus.”
In this increasingly individualistic culture, it rubs against the grain to intentionally orient our lives towards others, but that is the foundation of discipleship – particularly, of course, with an eye towards gospel influence. Yet, this is what the book, appropriately so, encourages.
The book is well organized into three parts, addressing some of the questions in discipling. What is discipling? Where should we disciple? How should we disciple? As is expected and appropriate, Dever highlights the centrality of the local church as the primary place for making and maturing disciples of Jesus. If the church is doing it’s job, people will be diligently following Jesus and then others will be following their example in discipleship relationships.
This all should ultimately be based on the word of God, as the core of discipleship is about teaching truth from the Bible and applying it in our actual lives. This looks differently for each situation. I have seen people intimidated by a discipleship relationship thinking that it is a didactic lecture from the Greek text with PowerPoint slides each week, but it doesn’t have to (and probably shouldn’t!) look like that. We share the word of God in our dailiy relationships which are born from the local church.
Truth needs to be taught and seen in peoples actual lives, with it’s chaos and unpredictability. This is what Dever highlights as the “life-truth-life” pattern. Our lives should attract people to listen, we teach truth from God’s word to them, and then their transformed lives illustration what is taught and in turn attract more people to listen to them…and the cycle repeats, and God is glorified!