It happens over time in large and small Bible studies. Women are excited to study God’s Word. But as their knowledge accumulates, the next thing you know they are being snippy about the study questions or whose group they are in or the table decorations. I have seen it happen among godly women in very successful Bible studies. I call it restlessness because we easily get stuck in discipleship and forget our purpose for disciplemaking. I believe that is from Jesus calling us back to our purpose. This post will cast the vision for you to answer the call from the Lord and leap into lifestyle disciplemaking.
Jesus followers become disciplemakers
It was the second week of visiting a new church, the first time visiting the women’s Sunday School class. While several women who had arrived early were visiting, another woman walked into the room and basically tossed a large binder on the table. “We need to do this,” she said with emphasis. Unknown to me, this was the planning meeting for the women’s ministry for the coming year. The title of the book was, “The Disciplemaking Ministry Guide for Women in Leadership.”
My heart leaped. Only 6 months earlier, I realized I knew a lot about the Bible and Bible studies. But I knew very little about connecting with nonbelievers and teaching new Christians. Back in my college days, when I first began to follow Jesus, I was part of a disciplemaking ministry on campus. I wanted to be part of that again. When I saw that book, I was drawn to find out more. Jesus led me to do that.
Over the next few days, I contacted the author of the book who happened to be the women’s ministry leader for the denomination of the church we were visiting. Disciplemaking was being pushed throughout the denomination, and most districts had a woman who was leading the charge for the churches in her district. I discovered that our district, which included Texas and Oklahoma, did not have a women’s ministry leader. So I applied for the position, was accepted, and began a wonderful journey of training women for disciplemaking in more than 24 churches throughout Texas and Oklahoma over the next three years.
That desire for disciplemaking has continued well beyond my tenure as the women’s leader for that association of churches. And my desire to bring others with me has not waned. Over the past decade, I have met many women who can relate to my experience of not knowing how to connect with nonbelievers any longer.
Getting stuck in discipleship
It happens over time in large and small Bible studies. Women are excited to study God’s Word. But as their knowledge accumulates, the next thing you know they are being snippy about the study questions or whose group they are in or the table decorations. I have seen it happen among godly women in very successful Bible studies—women who love Jesus very much. I call it restlessness because we easily get stuck in discipleship and forget our purpose for disciplemaking. I believe that is from Jesus calling us back to our purpose.
Christian women can get stuck in discipleship—the learning that helps them grow as Jesus followers. They can get comfortable in “community” so much that they lose the drive to reach out to others who do not know Jesus yet or do not know Him well.
Now, do not get me wrong. I love Bible study. I have been involved in some fabulous Bible studies over the years, even writing them and lecturing from my detailed study. Women need to know and understand God’s Word so they can know their God better and His way of approaching life.
But Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 to go and “make disciples”—make disciples as He did. His disciples took what they learned from Him and shared it with others, taking others through the process so those could in turn share about Christ with someone else and disciple them. This is the multiplication process Paul described in his second letter to Timothy.
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)
Transferring what you learn. Launch disciples who make disciples who make disciples.
Why disciplemaking is important
Through the years, I have been in some good Bible teaching churches. A couple have had occasional classes for new believers to get the basics of the faith. But none have offered tools and the push for me to personally disciple a new believer or a Christian who has never been discipled. It seems to be assumed that if someone comes to church or Bible study, they will get what they need to know by just being there. But do they?
When a child begins piano lessons, the teacher explains what the lines and notes on the page of music represent, what sharps and flats are, and which notes are meant for the right and left hands. That is basic music theory. Yet for new believers in Christ, we do not make sure they get the basics in an organized fashion from someone who personally cares about them. And who is modeling for them how to share their faith and disciple someone else?
Enter the “Disciplemaking” movement in evangelical Christianity. At last, something that draws mature Christian women with Bible knowledge like me towards what Jesus had in mind for us all along—intentional living to connect with nonbelievers and personally disciple new and young believers both inside and outside the church. That is being intentional and relational as part of your daily life, your lifestyle.
Not every Christian woman will become a director, coordinator, or small group leader; but every Christian woman from fifteen to ninety-five can become a disciplemaker. What we all need are the tools and encouragement to do so. I have been gathering the tools to use and am learning how to encourage others to make disciples who make disciples as Jesus did.
If you feel stuck in discipleship as I described earlier, maybe the Lord Jesus is making you restless so you will be drawn to become a disciplemaker, too. Resources to equip and encourage you to get “unstuck” are available below. Use them to leap into lifestyle disciplemaking.
This article is a revised version of a 2015 post.
- Lifestyle Disciplemaking downloads and training
- Disciplemaking for Women’s Ministry on Bible.org
- Stop the “It’s MY Ministry” Mentality blog
- Stay Christ-Focused When Telling Your Story
- Be a Christ-Focused Small Group Leader handbook (download pdf)
- The 5 C’s of Small Group Leadership on Bible.org (read online)
- Live a Question-Stimulating Life in View of Your Neighbors
- Never Too Old to Have Impact for Christ
- Become a Designated Engager
- Prepare to Share Your Faith Story
- Prepare to Share the Gospel Facts