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.
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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.