When we talk about disciplemaking, we’re talking about people who are “learners.” The Greek word discipulus means one who learns, who follows, who is ready to open up to the new. Disciples want to learn about Jesus, they want to learn from Jesus, and they want to learn to follow Jesus. Disciples are people eager to learn.
My friend Diane lamented the mistake she made about the women she invited into her small circle. “I chose people who I thought needed to grow, not those who wanted to grow.” Sometimes those who need to grow as disciples may not want to grow as disciples. We must look for those in whom the Holy Spirit is at work, and this is often demonstrated by people who are eager to learn.
The “qualifications” for who to invite into our small circle of disciplemaking are pretty simple. We look for people who show up and for people who are eager to learn.
Now comes the commitment question: “Do I ask for a commitment from someone to walk with me?” The answer is both yes and no. If I’m inviting people into a circle of disciplemaking, a small group that meets for the purpose of shaping our lives to follow Christ, then I ask for a commitment. I expect people to come prepared (there are always assignments and work in discipleship circles), to come to participate, and to come to apply.
Sometimes I invite people to a circle of two – me and one other person. Do I ask for a similar commitment that I expect from a small group? Sometimes I ask for a commitment but generally I simply do it. I identify people in my network of relationships who show up to grow and have a hunger for life change. I invite them out for coffee or a meal. In the course of the conversation, I inquire about their walk with God, their progress in maturity, and how they’re living on mission. I then issue a simple invitation. “How would you like to regularly meet to talk about what it means to be Jesus’ disciple today?”
If they say yes, I set up our next meeting. I may or may not use a curriculum, as I would with a small group, when I walk with someone one-by-one. However, I do have a picture in mind and I do have a process to go deep.
Inviting people to walk with us in this life of discipleship does not have to be complex. We can keep it simple. Simplicity brings clarity and commitment, and it creates effective communication. When we invite people to walk with us, we keep it small, we keep it focused with a clear picture of a disciple, and we keep the qualification of who to invite pretty simple: we look for people who show up and for people who want to learn.
As you consider your disciplemaking walk, keep it simple by asking these questions:
Are you willing to start small with a few?
Do you have a clear picture of a disciple, the destination of your walk?
Are you wise in your selection – looking for people who show up and who want to learn?
Your rich journey in disciplemaking will be greatly enhanced as you focus on simplicity!
Keep it focused: Find the essentials, aim for clarity.
Start small: Invest in a few.
Be clear: Have a picture of a New Testament disciple.
Select wisely: Who shows up? Who wants to learn?
Excerpted from Walk With Me: Simple Principles for Everyday Disciplemaking by Bill Mowry (© 2021). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.
Author Bio: BILL MOWRY (M.A., Ohio State University) has a passion for creating ministry cultures where relational disciplemaking is the norm. Bill and wife Peggy serve on staff with The Navigators Church Ministries in Columbus, Ohio. Bill is a published author in culture building, evangelism, and disciplemaking. You can contact Bill at his website: www.alongsider.com.