Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Discipling new believers

The sad truth is I was not taught to disciple anyone, including inviting them to accept Christ. One time in seminary I arranged a meeting with one of the bishops and when I asked for ways to disciple someone in the faith he kinda flipped. He didn't go crazy, but he did seem to make some pretty strong assumptions about what exactly I was asking for...I think it had something to do with being at a southern seminary. Anyway, he was so concerned with me Bible beating someone so they would convert that he didn't actually answer the question of how to disciple someone (with my assumption being that the discipled person would want to be discipled). My evangelism class was not much help in that department either. I was fortunate to do a WMEI trip to Cuba and see all the ways not to do evangelism (imperialism) and to have a very charismatic experience while I was there that changed the shape of my lived faith. But again, there was no training for how to actually disciple someone in the faith.

My church experiences weren't much help either. No general or specific instruction on what to do. Is it any wonder our church is shrinking when we do not prepare people to disciple other people?! (I've been active in at least 7 churches and no one has taught discipleship....and I don't mean the Bible study).

So now, here I am, pastoring a church that wants to grow and we need to disciple people in the faith in order to do that and I have few to no resources. I have lots of resources for folks that have been believers and active Christians for years. I have lots of books and classes on how to stretch people in their faith and take them to "the next level" but I have nothing to help a new believer learn the basics of the faith.

We have only a handful of new believers in the church right now, but presumably we would like more and we will only keep them around if we do some effective discipling. But first, I am concentrating on those that have been in the church forever to make sure they are comfortable with the doctrines, know the passages, and can talk about the faith to someone else. But not having been a "new believer" since I was 5 years old, I am not real equipped to deal with the basic questions that need to be answered. I have too much presumed knowledge in my head that I don't even think of--things like "Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillipians, Colossians, and Thessalonians are all named after the people that lived in particular cities." That's pretty much a no-brainer in my book, but not for someone unfamiliar with the Bible.

So these days I am relearning the basics so I can teach the basics and I am calling on as many resources as I can to better disciple people in the early stage of the faith. If you have any resources/books/tools you use, I'm looking for suggestions.

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