In part one of this series, I explained the many reasons the first six weeks’ worth of Bible material with a disciple should be on autopilot. Starting with the basics of God’s love, Jesus being the way to a relationship with God, the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life and others are all foundational topics which should always be covered first in a discipleship relationship.
Another area needing to be on autopilot is what to do during a typical discipleship appointment. Instead of winging it or fretting over it, the template of a discipleship appointment should not change. Matter of fact, this five-element template should be used 99 percent of the time with your disciple. Let’s explore each element of the discipleship appointment.
Five Elements of a Discipleship Appointment
Small talk involves getting to know the disciple and different aspects of their life. This is an important step for task-oriented people. Make sure the person knows you care about all aspects of their life, not just the spiritual side. In small talk, you ask about their family, background, outside hobbies, etc. This sharing back and forth about life is done in each appointment. Don’t fall into the temptation to jump over this element to get to a checklist of items. This is an important time for you to gauge how your disciple is doing. Find out what is on their heart and mind that day. Being a task-oriented person myself, I used to have to write myself a note in my discipleship planner that said, “Lori, ask her how her day is going!”
Accountability is when we reveal real struggles and shortcomings in our lives in order to receive help, guidance and support. It requires both vulnerability and authenticity. During accountability, both the discipler and disciple share about an area which is currently a struggle. Each agrees to ask each other about that area regularly. They pray for each other and encourage each other toward complete victory. The discipler should share about their struggles first to model authenticity and transparency.
Perhaps you ask your disciple to hold you accountable to memorizing scripture and not yelling at your kids so often. They may ask you to hold them accountable to be more uplifting to their spouse, or in reaching out to neighbors and inviting them to church.
The content portion is where you teach them from scripture something they can eventually pass on to another. This segment consists of time in the Word, perhaps doing a Bible study together. A discipleship appointment doesn’t merely consist of meeting together to talk and catch up. It needs biblical substance. There is content involved as you are discipling a person with an end in mind. You have a destination. Recall that the goal of discipleship is for them to look more like Christ and eventually disciple others. Time studying the Bible together helps accomplish this goal.
I recommend the first six weeks of content with any disciple be the foundational biblical lessons in Start Here 6 Foundational Lessons for Growth in Christ.
During the appointment, spend time praying for each other and for others. Ask God to help you both apply what you’ve learned during the content portion of the appointment, for items you shared about during accountability or small talk. Always pray for lost people in your life. These are family members and friends who have yet placed their faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. You may choose to write down these prayer requests so you can pray for your disciple daily until you meet again.
This element includes modeling and teaching others along the way. When you are able, think about doing ministry together with your disciple. Perhaps you both meet with a new person who attended an outreach or visited your church for the first time. Let them watch and observe you as much as possible. I always want one of my disciples with me as I share the gospel with other women I am coming into contact with. They will learn more in one hour of real ministry than me telling them about it for five hours!
Don’t Skip a Step
If one of these elements is missing, your discipleship appointment will fall into one of two ditches. It could be overly academic with just a focus on Bible study, spiritual elements and skills you are perhaps trying to teach. It will lack the warmth and care small talk brings. Or, it will fall off into what I call ‘coffee and vent’ where there is only small talk, catching up and maybe prayer, but lacking needed biblical content.
99 Percent of the Time
Recall I said this is the template you should use 99 percent of the time. The other one percent is the fact that life also happens and there will be situations, for whatever reason, you need to ditch the template. If your disciple comes into the appointment and has just suffered a broken engagement, a death of a loved one or the loss of a job, it may feel a bit cold to push through the five elements. You may need to simply be an encouraging, listening ear and prayerfully be used by God to offer care, wisdom and empathy.
Having these elements of a disciple appointment on autopilot will take the guesswork out of planning to meet with your disciple. You can easily think through the elements, plug in what you want to teach and focus on for a particular appointment, and not feel you are winging it. Further, this helps your disciple learn what an appointment should look like when they disciple someone in the future. You are setting them up for future discipleship success.
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.