Taking a Page from Hebrews: Environments, Relationships and Processes that Facilitate Discipleship
This post is the first in a three part guest blog series by Bob Logan, a ministry and leadership coach and noted expert on making disciples. Bob's discipleship guides were the basis for Dave Daubert's work on the new resounce, A Discipleship Guide for Lutherans. You can check out that reource by clicking here.
Too often when we think of discipleship, we think of the practices of an individual. Yet Jesus never intended discipleship as something to be done alone. What are some of the specific ways we can support one another in community as we go about our journeys of living as disciples of Jesus?
I personally think of three categories: relationships, environments, and processes. As leaders whose goal is to make disciples of Jesus, our work is to create the kinds of environments, relationships, and processes that facilitate discipleship.
What does that look like? The writer of Hebrews gives us some specific guidance:
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25, NRSV)
Let’s unpack this rich passage, as it has a great deal to say about how we are to disciple one another:
- “let us consider…” The word consider implies intentional thought about how to help another individual. We are to take our time, sit down and consider the best way to spur one another on, recognizing that it may look differently for different people.
- “how to provoke one another…” This phrase speaks to the very nature of community. Some translations use the phrase “spur one another on,” which implies both challenge and encouragement. Community is designed so that we might encourage one another on toward growth. That growth happens in the context of community, and we help move each other toward it.
- “to love and good deeds…” And toward what end are we spurring one another on? To love and good deeds. Not just love, not just good deeds—both. Here we see the highlighting of both the internal and the external, the being and the doing. That’s holistic discipleship.
- “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some…” Consistent meeting together speaks to the intentionality of the relationships. In any community of people, relationships can fade out if we’re not careful. We need to be intentional about maintaining our discipleship community.
Based on these principles, we can determine the types of environments, relationships, and processes that will be conducive to this type of communal discipleship. Here are a few examples:
- Environments: Social events can help people connect and get to know others, service events can bring people together in the context of serving, worship services can allow people to experience the sacraments and worship together. Consider what kinds of environments can gather people together to build relationships.
- Relationships: These can be peer relationships or mentoring-type relationships. They can also be one-on-one or done in smaller groups.
- Processes: When people gather for discipleship, there needs to be some type of process for them to follow. They need something clear to do. That can be as simple as reading a passage of scripture together, discussing its application in life, and praying together. Often it involves a curriculum, or some type of accountability.