I Am A Disciple, Hear Me Roar!
You’ve been a disciple for X-amount of years/months now. A weight has been lifted off of your shoulders with the knowledge and confidence that now, after participating in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through baptism, you’re soul no longer is in debt for it’s sin. You’re a new creation. The old self is gone and the new self is radiant and glowing and you’re ready to take on the world with a new direction and a new purpose!
Your friends/family/co-workers and every person you come across is an opportunity for you to share about the great things that Jesus has done in your life; and you don’t miss even one opportunity to “reach out” and “share your faith.” If only your church friends can see your faithful example of how hard you fight internally to open your mouth and “share the gospel” through self-denial and carrying your cross daily. Through rejection after rejection, with an attitude of pure joy, through the impossible schemes of your enemies day after day, you strive to be the shining example of Christ with the brightest light in town.
Like how patient you were when that crazy driver unjustly honked their horn as you pulled in front of them, or how loving you were to let a fidgety coffee addict go ahead of you in line at your favorite coffee shop where everyone knows your name, or even the Christ-like sacrifice you made to volunteer your home for your bible study group to meet this week knowing that you have a full schedule and how you need to skip your favorite tv show just so you can clean up the place for your guests – and they better be appreciative, too!
You, are a disciple of Jesus. You, share your faith with fervor for the Lord. You, read the scriptures holding on to Jesus’ teachings just as you were commanded. You, are ready to go into all nations. You, are anxious and ready to be used to make disciples. You, do everything your ministry leader asks and then some. You, take on new roles and responsibilities that are asked of you. You, are doing everything that you’ve been told. “This is what it’s all about,” you say. And then, something disrupts your flow.
God calls your number and someone finally says yes to your invitation to church. More than that, they say that they want you to study the bible with them and they want to learn how to become a disciple because of the impact that you’ve had on their life. But wait, admittedly, you didn’t actually think that someone would say yes. The heat of nervousness starts to surge through your entire body. You’re frantically going through your schedule in your head trying to find the perfect time and day that your ministry leader is available to lead a bible study for your friend. You’re struggling with gratitude because you now have an opportunity to learn how to study the bible with someone, but you’re just now remembering that you don’t have much gas in your tank until payday or that it’s been such a long time since you’ve been in a bible study and now you don’t think that you’re the best person for the job. You do everything else right though, you got the lingo and the culture down, can’t someone else handle the bible study? You say, “I’m not even properly trained for this!”
Have you ever been in this situation? Ever felt unprepared and surprised that someone actually said “Yes!” to your invitation to know Jesus? Has your pride ever been exposed and you feel the instant burning sensation when a humbling situation smacks you in the face? I have. And I’m sure my sinful nature will cause me to drift to this point once again someday. It might just be me, but I feel like there are many Christians that aren’t as equipped for every good work as we think we are. In our valiant efforts to transform our lives to become more Christ-like everyday, as we train ourselves to handle solid foods because milk is for babies – “and I am certainly not no baby!” we silently shout to ourselves – we neglect the necessary time that needs to be invested in being able to teach the faith that we have come to believe.
I’m no expert and I don’t think that you need to be as well. But I do think that we can do something about equipping ourselves and those around us to be able to share and teach our faith in an intelligent and personal way, at any given moment, with whoever we come across.
Sophistication and Intellect
One of the saddest ideologies I see in today’s culture, is that the gospel is not sophisticated enough or intelligent enough or interesting enough to hold it’s own in today’s culture and conversations. The teachings of the bible were sophisticated and intelligent enough to have a seat and voice among the greatest philosophies and ideas of ancient Greece! Our most intellectual and influential institutions in America had at least a respect for and acknowledgement of validity for the gospel’s teachings and values. Look at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, to start with. All of which find it’s beginnings through a knowledge of biblical teachings.
In our western culture today, it seems to me as if those same teachings that have passed the test of time – not to mention it’s even greater influence than many of it’s contemporaries in western philosophy – are viewed as invalid or out-dated and those who follow it are even discredited in their opinions and views because they are impractical for today’s life and culture.
It might have something to do with us who represent and promote the gospel, it might not, maybe it might have something to do with the culture itself. But nonetheless it’s a growing stereotype whether you’ve noticed it or not. I’m not saying that you are dumb or that you’re doing it all wrong. I’m not even saying that you should do it my way or that I even know what I’m talking about myself. What I’m commenting on is that this seems to be the state of the gospel in this part of the world or at least it seems to be a valid point of view that I’ve been experiencing. As if my beliefs, opinions, or thoughts are antiquated or unintelligent and practically useless for navigating through culture and life in the 21st century.
Students are confronted with it head on in the academic world. You notice the subtle degration of God and Christianity in the media. You see it in the attitudes and lack of respect for even the idea of faith in your communities. Or maybe I’ve become one of those crazy “Jesus Freaks” of this generation now.
At it’s most basic level, there is usefulness and relevance of a relationship with God through the bible. It’s not that Christians themselves have all the answers to life, it’s quite the opposite actually, I just think it’s more wise to go through life equipped with how to navigate through it rather than taking an attitude of “figuring it out as you go.” That’s not only unwise and dangerous, it’s kind of stupid. It’s stupid to think that you, being alive with the experiences that you’ve had, to it’s fullness that you’ve had so far, is capable of learning the truth and best practices of life all on your own. It’s even more nonsensical to think that a trial by fire and learning through mistakes is a healthy way of going about your life and that you’ll end up coming out stronger or better on the other side of things.
But I Already Know The Bible
For the Christian, I feel the same way about our relationship with the bible. We are called to learn how to do our best to present ourselves to God as one who is approved without any need to be ashamed and to rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 12:15 ESV). So I know I need to put time into being able to use it in my own life, but how much time have I neglected on helping myself to be equipped to help someone else in their life, specifically helping someone on a foundational level, studying the bible and become a disciple themselves?
I know there are those of us, like me, who have relied on someone with more authority or training to lead bible studies with our own friends. I also know that there are those of us, like myself, who have gone into bible studies unequipped and unprepared, praying for God to lead the way. And there are also those of us, just like me, who have thought that since we’ve been Christians for so long, I don’t need to spend time going over the rudimentary teachings and scriptures for becoming a disciple. “I live this everyday. I got this!” we say.
For those of us who have participated in these attitudes, I want to caution all of us about our pride and remind us of the audience the Hebrew writer wrote to about milk and solid foods. I’m sure the Hebrew writer wasn’t just saying that to this group because it’s cool to humble people openly before all of history – as funny as that may sound – I’d like to think that this instruction was for the pride and arrogance that develops along the years as we grow in our relationship with God that we’re “too experienced” or “too spiritual” or “not gifted in this area enough” to spend time asking ourselves if we are equipped in the word to help teach and lead people through bible studies ourselves.
Content Over Mechanics
I’m not talking about mechanics, I’m talking about content. My prayer is for those in my ministry, myself included, to be willing and fully capable to lead bible studies themselves with confidence and intelligence, being prepared to give an answer for the hope that they have come to believe. Not waiting for your ministry leader or church teacher or more experienced Christians in order to sit down and open the bible with someone. Our fellowship has a great resource to help us build our confidence in the word and encourage us to teach with intelligence and making the studies personal to you and those you study with. We’ve published our Foundational Bible Studies For Making Disciples Study Guide on our website to equip Christians everywhere with a tool to help give direction in studying the bible with people.
These aren’t a one-size-fits-all or thee way to make disciples, but it definitely is a valuable resource to equip you to help someone – with little to no background with the bible, develop an understanding of it – how to apply it to their lives, and how to begin their journey in a saving relationship with God. Beyond this view and application of this study series is pushing the functionality and intention of this resource.
Don’t Stop, Believing…or Developing
All that being said, I would like to invite you to spending some time going through the core studies of the series and asking yourself, “Am I confident and capable of leading someone to a knowledge of the scriptures on to becoming a disciple of Jesus?” and “Can I effectively, intelligently, and personally lead any of the core bible studies in this series?”
If your answer is yes, then by all means go ahead and do your thing, boo boo. But if not, or if you don’t feel very confident, then be encouraged not to feel inadequate and ill-equipped by spending some time going through these studies with us to confirm, strengthen, and encourage the faith that you’ve already come to believe. This isn’t a measurement with a grade between good job and disappointment, it’s an invitation to equip the man and woman of God to correctly handle the word and be confident in leading bible studies in any capacity.
Below are the how-to instructions of helping us begin building our confidence and training in our personal bible study skills. We’ll basically go through the provided study series from week-to-week and create a safe place online for us to ask questions about certain scriptures and gain insight on how to teach or talk through different key points in certain bible studies. There are links below to different places where we can comment or ask questions. Let’s be constructive, intentional, gracious, loving, patient, and considerate as we try to help one another be useful for the Lord and intelligently express our faith and inspire the communities we engage in.
Again, this isn’t the only way to study the scriptures with someone nor is it the law when it comes to the need-to-knows of a person’s salvation as each person’s journey is unique and every bible study is different from the next as each of us are unique and different from one another.
You might be really good at describing passages and have memorized different studies, but once you’re leading a study yourself or once the study goes off on different tangents, you aren’t so confident. Let this be a time and place where you can be encouraged in the scriptures and can discuss new explanations and metaphors in a community of believers who also believe in being equipped for the good works that God has uniquely set aside for your life.
My small group, The Southside Bibletalk of The Sacramento Metro Church of Christ, will be facilitating the conversation and we will be going through this series for the next few weeks. Feel free to join us at any time and have conversations with us on this journey. We have sectioned it off to four weeks, but of course, there is no end to our development as people and as Christians so we are more than willing to continue the discussions long after the initial timeline.
Study Series Schedule
You can download or view the series here.
Week One: Love For God, The Word of God, Knowing Jesus
Week Two: Man’s Wisdom vs God’s Wisdom, Sin, The Cross, Repentance
Week Three: Baptism, Discipleship, The Church
Week Four: Sharing: questions, observations, and insights
“The test of any movement of God is how continually it seeks to rediscover Jesus and how determined it is never to set up a monument to its present understandings.”
- Read through the three or four study series assigned to it’s timeframe. You can literally get through the assigned studies in one sitting because they aren’t that extensive and it’s not like we don’t know these scriptures
- Ask and share questions with our Southside Bibletalk as you go along. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask questions. Jesus asked questions his entire life! Be an imitator of Christ and feel empowered and blessed that we have a safe place to ask questions about anything we’re reading or if we aren’t sure how to help someone understand the point in any of the studies or scriptures. Heck, we’ll all benefit from being able to hear questions that we might not have thought of yet or be given an opportunity to share insights on scriptures and topics that God has given us throughout the years.
- Contribute to the conversation. Pretty self explanatory there. As we contribute to the conversation (with this group or other groups) we will be engaged and unified as we go develop and learn together
- Respond Online. I’m going to create a space online for us to engage with one another through our questions and in a unique, convenient, and technological way so we don’t have to wait for the next time we see each other to be engaged in our conversations.
I hope that we can be some help to anyone looking to get better at studying the bible with people. We certainly don’t have all the answers to all the mysteries and questions of the bible and about God, but we want to share what we do know and are humble to learning what others have learned through their experience with coming to a saving relationship with Christ and helping others become Christians.
This isn’t a place for debates and complaints about mechanics of studying the bible nor are we trying to challenge anyone in their convictions. Our intentions are purely to develop as disciples of Jesus and gain confidence in sharing our faith through personal bible studies and conversations about the scriptures that are shared through the provided study series.
Feel free to share any thoughts on this article down below in the comments or join our conversations online. I don’t really expect anyone but those who are a part of the Southside Bibletalk to participate and contribute to this initiative, but you are absolutely welcome to help us be mutually encouraged and strengthened in the sharing of our faith (Philemon 1:6).
Thanks for taking the time to read my post! See you around on the internets!!