Stop Taking Shortcuts in Making Disciples

We are living in time when everything comes at us fast. When we want something, we can get it immediately. We have Amazon, Door Dash, Uber, among other things. If we want a quick meal, all we have to do it put something in the microwave. But discipleship doesn’t work like this. Discipleship is a continual process of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following him. Unfortunately, many churches have been seen trying to “speed up” this process and take short-cuts by designing programs that simply get believers together instead of doing life together.

There is a big difference between those two things. While we need to spend time together and “hang-out,” we also need to be willing to be there for each other and help each other grow to become more like Christ. It takes hard work to develop authentic relationships that are able to produce accountability and restoration. Let’s look at what the Bible says about these two essential areas of discipling relationships.

Holding Each Other Accountable

While the process of making disciples often begins with teaching, baptism, and instruction, we can’t stop there. When we see a disciple struggling (could be from a relationship, or in a certain area of life), we need to help that person understand where he or she got off track. Take for example King David in 2 Samuel. In chapter 11, we see how David got up from bed and walked around his roof. From his roof, he saw a married woman (Bathsheba) bathing. He sent for her and they slept together. After getting pregnant, David basically had her husband killed in battle to cover up his sin.

In the next chapter, the prophet, Nathan, came to David and shared a story about how a rich man came into a town and stole from a poor man there. David said that the rich man in the story should be put to death and repay the man for what was stolen. Then Nathan told David, “You are the man!” David immediately realized his sin and repented. This sin didn’t go without consequences, though. The baby born to David ended up dying.

This must have been a very intimidating situation for Nathan. Here, he was a prophet in Israel, and he had to go to the King and confront him. That wasn’t an easy task, but keeping people accountable rarely is. In our discipleship relationships today, it is just as important to keep people accountable. If there is no accountability, people will just keep on doing whatever they want with no consequences. It is our job as disciplers to keep them accountable and bring correction when needed.

Bringing Restoration When Needed

No one is perfect, and people will mess up. When that happens, we have a choice to make. Will we toss that person aside or help them become restored to the community? While there may be limited situations where a person may have to leave a community, most of the time we need to help the person become restored to God and the community.

Before his crucifixion, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times. Peter said that he would never to that, but sure enough he did. In John 21, we see this intriguing conversation between Jesus and Peter. Jesus asked him if he loved him. Peter replied that he did.

This happened three times, just as Peter denied him three times. With each affirmation, Jesus challenged Peter to go feed his sheep. That is what he spent the rest of his life doing, taking care of and discipling people so they would know Christ. In our discipleship ministry, we need to be willing to help bring correction to disciples and help restore them when needed so they can keep moving forward in their lives.

What next steps is God calling you to make as an individual and as a church in terms of accountability and restoration?