Holistic Discipleship in God’s Family
What does discipleship mean to you? Is it coming to church week after week? Is it meeting with someone one-on-one for an extended period of time? Is it being a part of a small group of people, discussing a book of the Bible? Where you land on discipleship vastly impacts the way you determine how someone grows as a Christian. All the forms listed above are a piece of discipleship, but if one is missing in your life, chances are you aren’t growing the best way you can.
I lead a midweek discipleship class called AP Verge. There, students can sign up for classes discussing many different topics. We have talked about Christian ethics, Old Testament covenants, particular books of the Bible, and biblical counseling. AP Verge is designed to deepen the student’s knowledge of God’s Word to be applied to every portion of their lives. This past AP Verge class touched a vein that I believe revealed more than most people realized—a church-wide desire for holistic discipleship.
By holistic, I mean that every member of a church is involved in multiple types of discipleship—Sunday morning worship, small group, mentorship, and educational classes. In order for the believer to be well-rounded, every portion of discipleship should be offered.
I realized this when 60 folks signed up to be a part of the Biblical Counseling class. This class was offered to both students and their parents/guardians to equip them to counsel themselves and each other through various situations. We all know life happens outside of Sunday mornings, and chances are, when everything hits the fan, the person you need most isn’t available in that moment. The ability to counsel yourself or a loved one through deep water using God’s Word is a priceless gift. So, in order to get there, I believe holistic discipleship is needed.
All of this sounds nice, but is it truly biblical? Should everyone attend Sunday mornings in person, be a part of a small group, have a more mature person mentor them, and regularly seek more education on what the Bible says? I believe the answer is yes. There is much more that can be said about this, but if we simply focus on what Christ calls the local church, I think we may get a better grasp on holistic discipleship. I believe all the questions and doubts fade away when we approach the local church the way Christ did, as a family.
Jesus says in Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV),
“While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”
What makes someone a part of Jesus’ family? By doing the will of the father. Jesus addresses that blood does not make someone a part of his family. To be a part of Jesus’ family is to be a part of a covenant community—followers of him. It is significant that Jesus refers to family this way because he draws our attention to something deeper than flesh and blood. Jesus is connecting gospel community to being a part of a genuine family. To be a part of a family is more than the people and place you were born to. There is a greater family to be a part of, one that champions the kingdom of God and knows Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The family Jesus is referring to is one that knows him for who he truly is—God.
If there is any family to aspire to be a part of it is Jesus’ family. That is why the local church is so important. Local churches function as “micro families” eagerly waiting for Christ to return. These micro families are made up of people who come from different backgrounds and cultures, all making one single local church. With so much diversity represented in a local church, how can there be commonality between the people? It is simple—the gospel.
Paul championed this message in all his letters. Paul’s letters were sent to micro families, local churches, who were made up of many different types of people who united under one message, Jesus the Messiah. Because local churches are micro families made up of many different types of people, different levels of discipleship are assembled within each local church. I encourage you to read through Paul’s letters, specifically 1-2 Corinthians and 1 Timothy. I believe in those letters you will find every layer of discipleship represented because each Christian needs it.
If you’ve read this far, you may ask the question, “Okay, Foster, what is your point?” Good question! My point is a question. Are you growing in Christ in every way you could? Do you seek out fellowship with believers who actually know you? Do you desire mentorship from someone who can understand your story and give you guidance from God’s Word alone? Are you committed to a local church where the whole gospel is heralded weekly? If someone were to ask you how Christianity is genuinely different from any other faith can you confidently answer them?
My last follow up question is, if you aren’t doing those things, what things are you doing instead? Can you say Pastor’s Steve favorite phrase, “it’s all about him” and truly mean it?
There are many ways to get involved at your local church. Today, I encourage you to take your next step with Jesus by either joining a small group or seeking mentorship from someone. If you don’t know where to start, talk to me! I would love to point you in the right direction! Come to church in person and fellowship with the saints. Mirror Jesus’s words “These are my brothers and sisters!” Your local church is the family you have been looking for!