Discipleship and Marathons

Unsplash-Martins Zemlickis
Unsplash-Martins Zemlickis

Matthew 28:19-20(NIV) 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Disciple: a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher:

Do you see making disciples as a sprint or as a marathon?

This is an important question because your view will dictate your approach. If you view discipleship as a sprint then speed and mass production will be your aim. If you view it as a marathon, then you will see it as something that will take time, patience, and consistency over a longer period of time. And the reality is that I see the latter when I read the gospels and observe how Jesus made disciples.

Jesus spent three years with twelve men and was actually only left with eleven at the time of His death.  If this happened to us or someone we know we would see this as a failure or a very inefficient method. And if we were getting some kind of funding, our approach might be questioned and we might possibly get asked to change or adopt a new approach

I wonder if Jesus would look at our approach to discipleship and accuse us of making educated Christians and not disciples?

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I raise this question because for the most part the “discipleship” that takes place in most of the churches I’ve seen is based on some gathering geared towards teaching Christians the bible and it’s doctrines. And I’m not saying this is a bad thing. What I am saying is that our approach to making disciples does not look like Jesus’ approach. Jesus used a relational approach to making disciples. He spent time with them and taught them along the way. I think Jesus would say that discipleship is more like a sprint than a marathon.

It seems that  Jesus method of teaching was both organic and intentional. Jesus taught the disciples any time they stuck their foot in their mouth or when one of the religious leaders tried to get one up on Jesus. He also showed them the need to be intentional and make time to teach those who were “like sheep without a shepherd“.

So maybe we need to take another look at our approach to making disciples. Are we viewing it as a sprint or as a marathon? Are we making educated Christians or disciples? Are we mimicking Jesus’ relational approach to discipleship?


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