Discipleship Stories

“I wasn’t discipled.”

I confessed that reality in a recent post about our church’s initiative to take every member through an intentional six-week discipleship initiative in 2019.

For someone who wasn’t discipled intentionally, I have prioritized discipling others. For as long as I can remember in ministry, (going on 31 years!) I’ve believed in the importance of discipleship. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m deeply grateful.

I began thinking recently about the guys and girls I’ve had the joy of meeting with in discipling relationships, and I began to reach out to them. My memory is terrible, and so I’m hoping more come forward.

This Discipleship Stories series will feature some of those who agreed to respond with an entry about discipleship and the impact that meeting with another believer to mutually encourage growth in faith has had on their life.

There are several life stages for me that I’ve invested in discipleship:

  • Third Street Baptist Church of Arkadelphia, Arkansas (1986-1990)
  • Caddo Valley Baptist Church (same, 1990-1991)
  • First Baptist Church of Tolar, Texas (1991-1992)
  • First Baptist Church of Garland, Texas (1992-1995)
  • Second Baptist Church of Monticello, Arkansas (1995-2003)
  • Baptist Collegiate Ministry of the University of Arkansas at Monticello (1995-2003)
  • Journey Church of Monticello, Arkansas (2003-2009)
  • Northstar Church of Blacksburg, Virginia (2009-present)

In Arkadelphia, I don’t know that I practiced 1-on-1 discipleship. I served as a youth minister and then as a Sunday School teacher, and my understanding of regularly meeting with someone to encourage them in their walk with Jesus was not fully formed. It also had not been modeled for me.

When I got to Tolar, Texas (pop. 412 back in 1991), I began to meet with some of the guys in the youth group 1-on-1 and experienced the joys of seeing them quickly grow in their faith.

By the time I began serving as a collegiate minister in Monticello, Arkansas, I had fully embraced discipleship as a strategy and began using a tool called One on One with God by Jerry Fine to provide structure.

Since then, I’ve used different tools, but my commitment to discipleship has been consistent everywhere I’ve been.

For some, the word “discipleship” conjures up some kind of elitist, supra-spiritual approach to Christianity that is only for a special few.

However, discipleship is simply a relationship between two Christians with the intention of helping one another grow in their relationships with Jesus.

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, leaving his disciples to build what would become the church, He instructed them to “make disciples:”

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Simply, “discipleship” should be embraced by every single follower of Jesus. It is intentional. It is relational. Its goal is obedience, and its process is systematic. Jesus told us to “teach them to observe everything I have commanded you.”

This is something every Christian can do. Get involved in the life of another Christian (obviously starting at home) and encourage and teach and remind one another what Jesus said and did.

The connected promise is the presence of Jesus when we make disciples. He said, “I am with you always.”

I’m eager to hear the stories of some of the men and women God has allowed me to meet with over the years. I hope by hearing their stories, you’ll be encouraged and motivated to embrace a life-long commitment to making disciples.

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Jeff Noble

Jeff is the pastor of Northstar Church in Blacksburg, Virginia. He grew up in Arkansas, loves fantasy football and is an Apple fan boy. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @journeyguy.
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