What is Relational Discipleship?
Here is a very simple definition of relational discipleship – a close personal relationship out of which a person gets relational help to follow Jesus with his head, heart, and hands.
To really understand the meaning of the term – relational discipleship – then one must look to the method and message of Jesus. Relational disicpleship is the method of discipleship that Jesus used to train the 12, especially Peter, James, and John. Some key thoughts about relational discipleship from the life of Jesus:
“Without relationship, there is no discipleship, just the passing of information.”
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We cannot accomplish what Jesus wants or be what Jesus wants us to be, without doing it the Jesus way – which is relationships.
Jesus’ whole methodology is about relationships.
If a church does not create relational environments for discipleship, people will have to find ways of getting them outside church structures – these churches do not give people the ability to be what God wants them to be.
You can impress people in a lecture setting – but you can usually only impact people through a relationship.
Maybe the best way to understand relational discipleship is to compare and contrast it with classroom or programatic discipleship. Here is a partial list that Eastside's staff team created:
Requires Attention to scripture
Scripture & Holy Spirit
Emphasizes Factual Knowledge
Study and Facts
No Breaking of Bread
Know facts about Individuals
Start & Start Time/Quick
Teacher has all the Answers
Numerical Growth Oriented
Lesson is the Agenda
Setting is Formal
Requires a personal relationship pointed to Jesus
Scripture, Holy Spirit & Relationships
Head, Heart, and Hands
Emphasizes Life Application
Breaking of Bread
Know the hearts of Individuals
Meet in Homes Daily/Takes Time
Let’s figure it out Together
Spiritual Growth Oriented
Doing Life Together
Setting is Casual
Program with Purpose (making disciples)
Desire/Want to be There
Goal of the small leader is to create a relational place where people are urged to become more like Jesus.
What would you add? How would you define Relational Discipleship?
(This article is adopted from Jim Harris and Harpeth Community Church in Nashville, TN)