If the majority of your discipleship appointments consist of meeting for coffee, venting about tough things in life, a quick prayer and you are done, then you are squarely in what I call "coffee & vent" discipleship.
I feel the need to stop right here and have a disclaimer -- YES, it is good to listen and share about problems in life. YES, there may be times you forgo your planned discipleship agenda in light of a difficult situation your disciple is going through. But if this is the typical description of the majority of your discipleship times, I would not call it discipleship -- I would simply call it "coffee & vent."
If you feel stuck with a disciple in "coffee & vent," take heart! I want to help!
To get your discipleship time back on track, we need to focus on the two goals of discipleship when planning discipleship appointments.
The Two Goals of Discipleship Are:
We want the women God has placed in our lives (and ourselves as well) to mold into more Christlike characters and attributes over time. That happens as we bring them to Jesus week after week by studying the Bible. We cannot produce change in another person, that is the role of the Holy Spirit. But we can lovingly teach them, from God’s Word, and study Jesus in action.
Further, we want them to replicate what we are teaching to someone else. So if we ONLY vent about our issues week after week, she will come to believe that is all discipleship is. But it is more. It is teaching the basic foundational principles of the Christian faith, learning about the God of the Bible and obeying Christ.
Matthew 28:18-20: “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”
While you as the discipler may have great advice and a good listening skills, we need to make sure we don’t allow our discipleship time to be ONLY these elements. We need to also TEACH our disciples something from the Word of God so that she can grow in Christ and, one day, pass along these same teachings to another woman.
Ensure Your Discipleship Time is Relational AND Scriptural
We DO want to love on our disciple, listen to her, pray for her and hold her accountable to growth in Christ. That would be the relational investment. But you ALSO need the scriptural investment. Teach her how to study the Bible, the basic foundational principles of the Christian faith, how to memorize scripture, how to write her testimony, about spiritual warfare and about Judgment Day. Make a scriptural investment in her life. Have her take good notes and remind her it is your hope that she would one day teach these very same lessons to another woman in the future. For some pre-made Bible studies on these topics. please visit lorijoinerministries.org/store. There you will find print and e-documents you can start using this week!
Help For When you are Stuck in a "Coffee & Vent" Discipleship
If you feel you are stuck in this type of discipleship, use this script at the beginning of your next discipleship appointment;
“Hi Jessica! It’s always so good to meet with you! I can’t wait to hear how you are doing after that health scare last week. Why don’t we go ahead and get our coffee, as I also have a short Bible study planned for us to go through together. I found a passage of scripture that will be so helpful for you to turn to when you need encouragement from God this week.”
By stating this at the front end of your time, she has a new expectation that you all will be spending time in God’s Word together and not just “venting” the entire time. Keep this habit up (explaining at the front end your plans for the appointment including a Bible study) and over time, she will simply understand this is the norm. And further, your discipleship meetings will be a wonderful mix of relational plus scriptural investment.
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.