Discipleship is a hot and widely discussed topic. That's good, because if someone thinks they have a unique message from God – they probably don't. When God wants to bring about change, His normal practice is to put that idea into the hearts and minds of thousands and tens of thousands of his children. For that reason, it is encouraging to see so many leaders taking discipleship seriously.
But just exactly what is discipleship? Is it a program? Is it a curriculum? Programs and curricula are great ways to help people understand what it means to become a disciple of Jesus. Programs are great ways to train people how to make disciples. We need programs and curricula, but discipleship is more about helping real people with real problems who need real "good news." So it's helpful to distinguish between the "means" and "ends" of discipleship. Programs and curricula are the means. Bringing people to faith in Jesus and spiritual maturity is the ends.
Discipleship is getting involved in the life of someone who is "stuck." It's probable that every other person you will talk to today is stuck. It could be work, marriage, money, meaning, children, health, or an emotional or psychological problem. Discipleship is not panning the audience and coming up with blankets solutions. Rather, discipleship is zooming in on one person and helping them get unstuck. Discipleship is personal. Discipleship asks, "Why is this person stuck? And how can I, as a disciple maker, help them get unstuck?"
So here is an actionable definition of discipleship that you can build ministry around: When God puts someone in your path who is stuck, discipleship means finding out why, and then helping them solve that problem.
When a man walks through the front door of your church with his wife and young children, discipleship means finding out why – what is the problem that brought him into the house of God – and then helping him solve that problem. When a coworker's morale suddenly plummets, discipleship means finding out why, and then helping them solve that problem. When a neighbor or friend loses a job, gets cancer, or has a rebellious child breaking their heart, discipleship means finding out why, and then helping them solve that problem.
Until every church disciples every man…