Challenges of Relational Discipleship

August 21, 2012



As I have previously mentioned in a recent post that relational discipleship is a wonderful concept that Jesus models for his followers but is very hard to actually put into practice. As Eastside Community Church continues down this journey of “intentional relational discipleship” path there are always new learnings that are emerging. Here are a few of them:

1. Jesus had 12 disciples that he poured his life into for over 2 1/2 years. Three of those 12 made up his “inner circle”. It has been a very difficult process for me to narrow my list down to 12 for a couple reasons. First, how does a senior pastor justify that he is pouring most of his time into 12 leaders and not the entire congregation? Second, how can I choose ONLY 12 when there are some many people who need to be discipled?

2. You have to know and understand the difference between investing in your “12” and having serendipitous discipling moments. Here is what I mean. The other day I had an opportunity to encourage a small group leader at our church who was frustrated with their small group. This leader is not part of “my 12.” I listen to this small group leader “vent” for the next 15 minutes about how their small group was difficult and didn’t want to do anything ministry related. After listening to this small group leader “vent” I shared with them that being the “shepherd” over spiritual infants is not fun nor is it easy. However, they had been called by God to shepherd this group. What an honor. I sought to encourage this leader. A couple weeks later, I saw this same small group leader at church. I shared with them that I had been praying for them and their small group. I asked them if there was anything I could do to help them succeed? They said, “no” but were thankful that I had been praying for them.

3. Our model for “being a disciple” and “making disciples” has to be the Jesus Christ model; not John Calvin, Bill Hybels, Jacobus Arminius, or Rick Warren.¬†We have to take the people we are discipling back to Jesus. As disciples we have to be modeling the principles which Jesus modeled. As you read the Bible for yourself or with those you are discipling you have to ask two questions: What does this passage say to me as a disciple of Jesus? What does this passage say to me as a disciple-maker?

These are a few of the challenges which I am facing as I seek to shift the ministry which God has entrusted to me from programs to people. What are the challenges you are facing as a disciple? As a disciple-maker?


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