A couple weeks ago, Darla Elder, our Discipleship Facilitator, extended a discipleship invitation to us as a church community.
She shared, “I’m a 1st grade teacher, and in education we want our students to be lifelong learners. In the same way, as believers, discipleship invites us to be lifelong learners about Jesus! When we’re with other people who love the Lord and we share our lives with them, we open ourselves up for God to work. Wherever you are in this discipleship journey, I hope you’ll just take a little step! You don’t have to do life alone!”
As we consider this invitation, I’d like to share with you 3 discipleship journeys, stories of how investing in discipleship has made a difference.
1. In my life: Discipleship was foundational for me!
Discipleship made a HUGE difference as I started to follow Jesus almost 40 years ago. I’ll never forget the initial meeting with my Navigator ministry leader, John Purvis, to help me get grounded in Christ. It was at a bar (one of my old hangouts!) on my college campus (go Badgers!).
Being discipled was so foundational to my relationship with God, and set the tone as John cast vision for those that one day I would be discipling.
It was hard for me to believe at the time, and caused me a bit of panic, but I benefited SO MUCH from getting in the Word with John that I really wanted others to know the same joy I did from being discipled. (Yes, that’s college era me, pictured in the middle, with two Navigator friends!)
2. In our church: Taylor discovered connection with the Lord through discipleship!
Taylor Aguilar started attending the COD youth group via Zoom during COVID. She got to know Ashley, her core group leader, and had the following comments about how the Lord has used their times together:
“Discipleship has made a difference in my life by g iving me someone who is always in my corner. Ashley allows me to speak openly and honestly about my spiritual and personal struggles, while still pushing me to always seek the Lord first and put my relationship with Him as my top priority. Ashley may not have all the answers, but the Lord is able to speak through her into me and it is so powerful.”
(You might remember that Taylor was baptized back in September. She’s pictured here on that special day, in the middle, with Ashley on the right.)
3. In other cultures: A faithful Nyamwezi disciple is now a pastor among his own people!
One of our own COD missionaries, Colin McDougall, recently wrote the following about the role of discipleship among a people group in Africa:
“Bishop Silas tried many ways to quickly reach the largest unreached people group in Tanzania, the Nyamwezi, but made no progress at all. Then he started to concentrate on discipling just one or two Nyamwezi men. One of these men was faithful and grew to the point that now he is now a pastor who planted 4 of the 9 churches among the Nyamwezi people. Jesus still makes disciples of the nations, one faithful person at a time!”
(Pictured on the left is this Nyamwezi pastor, Nsolezi, baptizing a new believer.)
It thrills my heart to see how the Lord raising up disciples of Jesus among the Nyamwezi people of Tanzania in answer to our prayers!
Discipleship can look different for each of us – as Darla shared, it’s a journey. As you consider this invitation into discipleship, I encourage you to lean forward into it. The Lord Jesus so wants to meet you there!
P.S. Your pastoral team here at Church of the Open Door would love to talk to you more about discipleship, and help you take a next step! One great step would be to go through GOD’S STORY OF GRACE with one or two others. This is a 4-week series all about the love and grace of God.