Discipleship can seem like a daunting task. All the books, strategies, and opinions that seek to bring to light the best way to make disciples can make the call to make disciples harder than it should be. In all the noise of good discipleship resources out there, the true source of everything we need to know about discipleship easily gets drowned out. We lose perspective on the sufficiency of Scripture to tell us what we need to prioritize, what to focus on, and how to accomplish the call to make disciples.
The more time I spend working to make disciples on the college campus, the more I see that there are truly very few things God really wants us to focus on in reference to His command to make disciples. Two, in fact. So take a deep breath and relax; discipleship is simpler than you think it is.
The Two Things to Focus on in Discipleship
In Acts 6:1-4, we find that the apostles have been presented with a problem in the early church. The believers want to know who will provide for the believing Jewish widows. Instead of taking on that logistical responsibility, they explain to the messengers that,
“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.
The answer from the apostles is clear: it is better for them to minister the Word and pray then it is for them to serve widows. Their answer doesn’t mean that the widows’ needs are unimportant; in fact, if we continue reading, we see the apostles designate others to solve that problem. This passage teaches us that for those who are in positions of spiritual leadership, being devoted to prayer and the Word is primary. God’s fundamental means for making and maturing disciples is through the ministry of the Word and growth in prayer. Hence, these are the top two things God wants us to focus on in developing disciples.
Because of these things, I want to share briefly how I disciple and challenge my students in growing in these foundational principles of discipleship.
Being Devoted to the Word
First, my students and I meet together weekly, either in one-on-one meet-ups or small groups. Each week I ask what kind of Bible reading plan each student has. I ask them how they plan on implementing that reading plan and what time that will take place. I hold them accountable to that every week.
Second, we always have devotional/study time in the Word when we gather. We are searching the Scriptures together to address life issues that have occurred during the week. Then we seek to apply what we learn through spiritual disciplines or calling one another to repentance and healing. This is the consistent pattern of how I hold my students (and myself) to a growing devotion to God’s Word.
Being Devoted to Prayer
We strive to implement consistent devotional times of prayer for each student in their life and when we meet. For instance, every time I meet up with a student, we begin our meeting with prayer. After going through our catch-up time and then time in the Word, we pray for the specific things that were brought to light and we pray for them right then We do not wait because the tendency for most of us is to actually not pray for the things we say we will pray for. After this, we talk through their spheres of influence and the people the Lord has placed in their life, reviewing how they are seeking to make disciples in those places. Afterward we will always pray together for B.O.B.:
- Burden for the lost
- Opportunities to share our faith
- Boldness in those opportunities
Together, we are practicing growing in personal prayer. This actually influences each student’s individual faithfulness in making disciples.
Recovering the Simple Focus of Discipleship
The enemy would love to paralyze us with overwhelm from overcomplication when it comes to making disciples. He loves to convince us that discipleship is harder than it actually is. Don’t let him succeed."The enemy would love to paralyze us with overwhelm when it comes to making disciples. Don't let him succeed." -@ReeseHammond #collegaitedisciplemaker Discipleship Is Simpler Than You Think It Is Click To Tweet
I hope these brief examples of how I seek to prioritize the primacy of the Word and prayer in my discipleship process will help you remember it’s simpler than you think it is. I encourage you to stay faithful in the main things and do the right things God wants us to do in the right way God wants us to do them. When you boil it down, dependence on God through His Word and prayer is all the Spirit needs to transform hearts and lives.