I lined up around 10 guys to be part of my disciplemaking program. I was going to meet with them each individually and have Bible study all together every Saturday morning at 7:30. But there were never more than two who showed up. I eventually realized these young believers were college students and always out late on Friday nights.
Effective disciplemaking is personal, meaning that we relate to people as people, with individual needs, desires, and situations…not projects. My plan didn’t fit their needs.
One of the guys, who was a new believer, got kicked out of college because of growing marijuana in his dorm room. In the five weeks he was on my “list,” I had no idea what was going on in his life—until I heard the rumor. There was no way that I could meet with 10 guys individually and really know them at a heart level. I was trying to crank out widgets on an assembly line, not make disciples of Jesus!
Bible study materials and a good game plan for discipling people is important, but it doesn’t take precedent over disciplemaking that is personal and fits the person you are discipling: their season of life, level of hunger, schedule, or their capacity.
A quick read of the Gospels shows how Jesus was discerning and provided “right-sized” and individualized opportunities for the men and women he interacted with. Jesus’ discipling of Peter was different than how he related to John. His interactions with the two sisters in Bethany were personal—He related to Martha different than to Mary. They needed different things, had different strengths and vulnerabilities.
Our efforts to help someone grow as a disciple of Jesus will be most effective when we personalize our approach to the individual lives and situations of those we hope to serve.
Have you ever had someone be involved with you where you felt more like a project than a person?
Are there people you are helping spiritually who have things going on in their lives that you could engage with them on?
2 thoughts on “If You Want to Cookie Cut Disciples, Stick to Cookies!”
Interesting story. I like to encourage a group-based discipleship program that includes the freedom for people to meet one-to-one if needed outside of the group. In other words, start with the group model, then move into one-to-one if needed. But here is the key: the one-to-one is for the group members to do with each other (not for the leader to do with them). Just my thoughts. Thanks for sharing.
Christopher, good points on the importance of community! In my story, I was trying to disciple a number of random/isolated individuals. The community approach you suggest is much better. Peer mentoring and influence is powerful. And, as God leads, personal one to one interaction with those we are investing in can allow getting to issues of life other friends/peers may avoid. Some of the most life changing conversations I have with people I’m helping happen in the safety of a one to one conversation in our trusted friendship.