Alan Knox on what discipleship is and isn’t

Thanks to Alan Knox over at The Assembling of the Church for linking my post ‘What discipleship is not‘. In the comments, Alan adds these three thoughts to the discussion:

  • It is not education (information).
  • It is not one-sided.
  • It is not accidental.

In his post, Alan shifts the discussion to what discipleship is, and he asks the following questions:

What is discipleship? What role does God play in discipleship? What role does the disciple-maker play in discipleship? What role does the one being discipled play in discipleship? Can there be a blurring between the disciple-maker and the discipler? Is that type of blurring good or bad?

What is the goal of discipleship? Do certain activities lead to that goal? Are certain settings more conducive to reaching that goal? Is discipleship only one-on-one or can someone disciple a small group or a large group? What role does teaching play in discipleship? How is education related to discipleship? What about other spiritual gifts?

These are good questions; important ones for us to be asking if we are to effectively disciple others. In the comments on Alan’s post, I shared the following thoughts in response to his questions and the comments of other readers:

I’ve become a big fan of life-on-life discipleship (though other modes exist), and I think that one important type of discipleship relationship is that of a believer helping a less mature believer grow in obedience to Christ. I also like the thought about blurring the lines between discipler and disciplee, though.

Something I have been thinking about lately I’ve been calling the “round table of discipleship” for lack of a better term. I serve with a team of missionaries, several of whom are older than me. One man, the oldest, has probably the most life experience and overall spiritual maturity. He can teach the rest of us a lot. The leader of our team, much younger than this man, can learn from him but can also teach him some things about effective cross-cultural mission work. Everyone around me, younger or older, can teach me things in various areas, and in certain areas I can help even those who have more experience than me with a thing or two. So there is a lot of give and take, not a clear-cut hierarchy.

Do you have any thoughts about what discipleship is and/or what discipleship is not that you would add to this discussion?

We need some clear idea of what discipleship is (even if we have different ideas) in order to effectively make disciples, thus fulfilling the Great Commission.