Discipleship is the process by which we grow in Jesus, follow his teachings, and are equipped by the Holy Spirit (see Got Questions for more!). Discipleship is a whole life journey, that should be a part of all we are doing. But it is easy to become reliant on our church for deepening our discipleship – of course, your church and Christian community plays a significant role in your discipleship, but ultimately, we are each responsible for ensuring that we are continuing to grow in our faith throughout our whole lives.
The lockdown we are currently facing will certainly be highlighting the problems with becoming too reliant upon an external organisation for our discipleship – we can’t meet in our normal ways we can’t do the things that church would normally be helping us with. So, whether you’re reading this during the lockdown or not, we all need to take responsibility for our own discipleship; for what we are learning, and how we are growing.
So, here are some ideas for how we can ensure deeper discipleship for ourselves!
Home groups, house groups, connect groups. Whatever you call them, planning specific time to gather in a small group of Christians for Bible study, discussions, prayer, and generally doing life together is a great way to ensure that we are continually learning from one another and exploring God’s word. Home groups are a great way to provide accountability for one another, to be praying for one another, to encourage one another, and to push each other to become better and more Christ-like. If you’re already in a home group – can you meet virtually? If you’re not, why not consider starting one during this time, especially if there are other people you know who are searching for deeper discipleship? You could take turns leading the sessions, or follow a course such as The Prayer Course by 24/7 prayer.
Find new ways to pray
Building our relationship with God: being able to turn to him when we are in need, and listening for his voice, are hugely important in developing our faith. It is easy to become reliant upon other people’s intercessory prayers, and other people leading us in prayer. But what about when we’re left alone? Why not use this time to find new ways to pray? From creative prayer ideas (I can suggest a whole bunch here), to writing your own prayers, to memorising and using pre-written prayers.
Learn to worship in your own house
For many people, sung worship is one of our main forms of worship. But often what we’re used to is a room full of other people, all worshipping with us, a band or an organ, for some people big fancy lights and microphones and screens and all sorts. Now, we suddenly find ourselves home by ourselves, singing to our four walls and the occasional furry friend, music from a screen only. I think this is a perfect opportunity to check ourselves and ensure that we are truly worshipping God, to check that it is not the band or the atmosphere, or the experience that we are worshipping. God is the same whether we are in church or at home, so we should still be able to worship him wherever we are.
Develop your theology
Whilst many of us are still able to access sermons through online services, or podcasts, or YouTube, we should also be working to develop our own ability to explore God’s word, study in, and understand it. We can do this through spending time studying the Bible and studying what other people have interpreted through reading commentaries. Developing our own theology is really important as we work towards deeper discipleship as it allows us to discern whether what we hear from others is biblical or not, and helps us to answer when people question us about our faith. Some of my favourite commentaries are the NIV Application Commentaries, and the Bible for Everyone series.
Find yourself a mentor/mentee
Having a godly mentor is a great way to keep learning from those who have gone before us – older and wiser Christians. They can hold us accountable, give us wise counsel, teach us, and direct us on how we can continue to grow in our faith. If you are reasonably mature in your faith, you could also consider finding a younger or newer Christian to mentor yourself. Titus 2 gives us a really great framework of passing on our experience, and knowledge, to younger generations. This is how we help to disciple other Christians and set them a godly example.
How are you working to ensure deeper discipleship during this time of lockdown?