It may seem weird to use autopilot and discipleship in the same sentence. I mean, discipleship is a relationship with at least two people. Relationships are really not items we typically think of going on “autopilot," yet there are certain elements that most definitely need to be on autopilot.
Two items for autopilot are:
The First Six Weeks
There is no need to wonder, with each new disciple, what material to cover. While there are so many wonderful topics to explore when it comes to God and the Bible, there is a very simple set of topics to start with.
Always start with the basics: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Bible and the Great Commission. Always. Without exception. If the person is a brand new believer or a person who has been asking spiritual questions ... the same basic lessons. Your new disciple is unsure if she is a believer, she receives the same basic lessons. If she was raised in a Christian home and went to a Christian high school ... say it with me ... the same basic lessons.
Autopilot, my friends.
I have been discipling women for 28 years. Through trial and error and lots of experience, I have thus found starting with the basics first to be important for two main reasons.
Back to the Basics
We cannot assume our new disciple really has the foundational lessons nailed down. Do they deeply understand and believe God loves them? Do they think that one major screw up in high school made God mad and He is still making them pay penance? Have they ever been taught clearly about the Holy Spirit? Do they know He is an equal part of the Godhead and not a mist floating around or just an idea or a feeling? Do not assume they know why they can trust the Bible and how Jesus used scripture in the New Testament. We cannot assume these basic lessons are truly serving as a bedrock of their growing faith. Most likely there are many areas of confusion and biblical guessing going on.
So bottom line, do not assume your disciple, no matter how religious their background, knows some of these basic foundational lessons from scripture.
Preparing for the future
Number two reason to always teach the basics first is that you must prepare your disciple for their future discipleship endeavors. Recall one of the goals of discipleship is your disciple would transfer and teach what they have learned to another person.
So, if you are diligent to teach your disciple the basics of the Christian faith, then they are ready to teach those same lessons to the person they disciple. You are setting them up for a lifetime of discipleship. One cannot possibly know all the different types of people they may meet with. Yet, you can ensure they are starting off in the right direction by covering the basics first.
Securing the foundation
To reiterate, the first six weeks you meet with a disciple you are covering the basics of the Christian faith. You are teaching them about God’s love, how Jesus alone is the way to a relationship with this loving God, the Holy Spirit is God, prayer, trusting the Bible, and our overarching purpose in life -- the Great Commission. This part of your discipleship journey is squarely on autopilot.
I felt so strong about this I wrote Start Here 6 Foundational Lessons for Growth in Christ. There is one for women’s groups and now a new edition to be used with men as well. Order yours today at https://www.lorijoinerministries.org/store.html.
Talking With Your Disciple About Sin | Part 2
This is the second of three articles in this series
Every Christian at some point will look back on their life with some remorse or regret. They may think about what could have been had they only walked with God at a deeper level at a certain time in their life. There may be regret from not trusting in Christ earlier in their life. They may regret that when they knew better, as a believer, they did not fully submit to His leading and thus made decisions they wish they could change.
These feelings of regret and sorrow can cast a shadow on our walks with God now. Then can even impede what God wants to do in our lives in the future. It is important as a discipler in another person’s life to address this regret issue with truth from the Bible.
Resting on Truth From the Bible
The below set of verses from the book of Psalm is a great place to begin this discussion.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
Each line of this Psalm, written by King David, is truly dripping with love and forgiveness from God. This passage describes God as compassionate, gracious and slow to anger. It says His love is higher than the heavens for those who fear him. We need to note here that fear in the Old Testament, where this book of Psalm is located, means faith and reverence for God, not a fear such as being scared or fearful of something bad happening.
This passage goes further to explain how God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. How far is the east from the west? Exactly-incalculable! This is great news as when I confess my sins to God, and when your disciple confesses their sins to God, they are removed! We are the ones who tend to bring them back up and beat ourselves up for them ... not God! This passage can truly give us great hope that God loves us, removes our sins from us and has compassion on us.
Forgetting What is Behind
In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Christians who live in shame and guilt over past failures are needlessly condemning themselves. Referring your disciple to Paul’s words here to “forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead” can be most helpful.
Be intentional about teaching your disciple these truths from scripture. You have no idea what she may be beating herself up about and most likely, not feel totally comfortable talking to you about her past mistakes. Be quick to share with her something from your own life you regretted, but confessed, gave to God, and trusted that He removed from you as far as the east is from the west!
Whether speaking, training, or discipling, Lori brings a passion to see women raised up to be all they can be in the Lord, teaching to women of all ages on a wide variety of topics. She currently makes her home in Katy, TX, with her husband Alan and two young children Josh and Jake.