Discipleship is more than words


‘Truly Radical’ – DISCIPLESHIP

  1. Discipleship is more than words.

The word ‘discipleship’ is used so much within the church. Churches have discipleship groups and there are a variety of discipleship courses that Christian believers go through as part of the ongoing teaching ministry.

I want to suggest in this brief article, that while there is good in much of what is covered within the teaching ministry of a local church, there are areas that are not covered sufficiently and, if we are to equip Christians to Join Jesus in His Mission and be truly radical, we need to discover some key components of discipleship that are vital but often missing.


A while ago I was in Harare, Zimbabwe and was asked by The Rooftop National Pioneer, Phillip Mudzidzi, to provide him with a living example of what it means to make a disciple. So, I took him to the gym! I told Phillip that we would use this trip to the gym, a place he never visits, as a demonstration of what it means to be a disciple.


As we walked up the long wooden stairway to the gym, I told Phillip that once we had paid our entrance fee we would sit for a few minutes in the reception area so that I could tell him what we would do once we went into the gym and started the work out.


So, for a few minutes, I told Phillip which exercise we would do, how we would do it and what the benefits of it were – which part of his body it would be working. He listened carefully, and, as he always does, he smiled a broad smile. Then we went inside.


I took Phillip to the ‘cables’ machine and asked him to watch as I showed him what to do. I set the wright on the machine, stood in the middle, grabbed the handles either side of me and then pulled them slowly downwards and forwards, begin careful not to twist my back or let the weights go back too quickly. After I had showed him what to do, I said, ok now I will let you have a go.


Phillip took my place in the middle and put out his hands to grab the handles. As he did this I asked him if he might like to lower the weight some as he had not done this before. He was sure that he did not need to do this so, I let him continue. It was very amusing to watch as he began to pull the handles and, when they did not move he pulled harder and harder with no result. His usually serene and smiling face was now contorted into a grimace, his back was twisted and his legs were bent as he tried as hard as he could to do what he had seen me do.


After a while he let the weights go back with a huge crash which caused everybody else in the gym to look around wondering what on earth was going on.


I returned to the middle and suggested that we remove some of the weight and then showed Phillip again, then I let him try again. This happened a number of times and, each time, the weight became a little less and Phillip’s technique improved dramatically. I can vividly remember how his usually serene face that had been contorted with pain and effort now, as he had learned how to do the exercise, was now filled with an ear-to-ear smile as he called out to me ‘I am doing it….I can feel my muscles’.


After this, we continued to another exercise and I showed him how to do a bench press. He watched me very carefully and then, before he had his first attempt, he suggested that we remove some of the weight from the bar.


The purpose of this lesson in discipleship was to help Phillip to see that for us to become disciples of Jesus there is a need for ‘more than words’. It is important that we do TELL people things by teaching them the scriptures and even how this should be applied to their lives. But telling is only one part of helping people to learn. If we are to make disciples it is important to bear in mind what happened in the gym in Harare and, far more importantly, to see how Jesus made disciples. I suggest that the following three words are all vital components of making disciples, they are:


Tell the person the truth and help them to understand how this truth should be applied in their daily lives)

Show the person how to do what is being taught. This requires practical demonstration and cannot be achieved in a classroom or Sunday School room.

Let the person do what you have shown them and then, repeat the process of Tell Show Let over and over until the person is able not just to do it themselves but be able to tell show and let another person be able to do it!


In future articles I will look in more depth at each of these three key components to making disciples.


Questions for reflection?


  1. What do I react think of when I think of discipleship?
  2. What teaching/experiences have caused me to think of discipleship in this way?
  3. How does what I have been taught/experienced differ from the TELL SHOW LET process of discipleship?
  4. What steps am I going to take to become more effective at becoming and making a discsiple?









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