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The past few women I’ve discipled, I’ve used the same material – a thin yellow booklet touching on the major aspects of Christian living.
Meeting on a weekly basis, we cover things like: assurance of salvation, church membership, why we should study the Bible, and baptism.
If you’ve ever been discipled, you’ve probably gone though a similar curriculum. It’s pretty basic stuff. Good stuff.
But also a little dry!
That’s because most discipleship curriculum covering the foundations of the Christian faith has one goal: to provide data. I’m glad! It’s needed.
But I’m learning that discipleship is more about grace than it is about mere knowledge.
Grace vs. knowledge?
Among the women I’ve discipled, it is far easier for them to see the grace they’ve been shown in the actual event of salvation than to understand how to walk in light of that grace every day.
But new believers need to know that grace is a present possibility just as much as it is a past reality.
We need grace to overcome fear and failures.
We need grace to heal the brokenness of sin.
We need grace to praise and offer thanks in the midst of heartache. To build relationships, to repair them. To fulfill our respective callings, to see the Great Commission completed.
To make better disciples, our discipleship strategies must do more than relegate grace to a past event – something that Christ did for us on the cross so we could get past those pearly gates.
God’s grace shown through Christ is the fuel for spiritual change in the discipleship story. It is the defining characteristic that not only rescues us from sin, but allows us to soar over it every day.
Evangelism is telling people about God’s grace; discipleship is helping them to walk in it.
Grace-filled discipleship is needed regardless of church size or shape. But after serving in a church planting context for the past few years, I’ve seen grace-filled discipleship is incredibly important in areas of the country where a religious culture is largely absent.
Our church plant is located in an area that is slow to embrace the gospel. New believers from our area often lack the religious knowledge commonly present in other cultural areas of the U.S. When they walk into a worship service for the first time, everything is new.
With no other support system, they need help regaining their feet when they fall back into the old ways of life.
To make better disciples, we must not only teach women about God, but lead them to know him fully (1 Cor. 13:12-13). We must strive for grace-filled discipleship.
Grace-filled discipleship takes the disciple by the hand and walks her through repentance and restoration so that the grace of Christ leaps from the past into the present.
Grace-filled discipleship pushes a reluctant or lazy disciple forward when the world beckons her from the sidelines.
Grace-filled discipleship asks solid and penetrating questions to spur growth and reveal her heart’s secret idols.
In the end, grace-filled discipleship is just as much about the discipler as it is about the disciple. As a disciple-maker, I must ensure my disciple grasp God’s grace before anything else.
I must be honest and open about my own struggles. I must walk with a disciple daily, instead of trying to squeeze a book on biblical foundations in 4-week sessions. I must show grace when the disciple messes up and doesn’t know how to rightly orient her heart toward Christ again.
I think it is why Peter urges us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:18). Grace-filled discipleship requires both knowledge and grace.
When you became a Christ-follower, what aspect of discipleship helped you the most? What was the most meaningful aspect of your discipleship process? Share your thoughts in the comments!