It’s not uncommon for Christians to view life through institutional lenses to the point where we believe that disciples need the ‘institution’ more than they need a direct, close, Spirit-led relationship with Jesus.
Let me suggest that it is Biblical to accept that the Holy Spirit is at work in people and has been from their beginning. When we as disciplers are led by the Spirit to connect with a person who may have no connection with a Church, it is just the next step in their journey which is directed by the Spirit. In the early stages of this connection some of the following will be indicators of progress towards a more purposeful journey with Jesus.
When we see these indicators in a person’s life, we are observing that it is time to transition to a more intentional journey to Jesus. A part of the journey is to pause at significant points of progress or transition to celebrate together. This pause will be meaningful for a postmodern disciple, as together you celebrate the intentional choice to grow stronger and go deeper in the journey with Jesus.
Because of the tentative steps that are part of this early stage of the process, the discipler will need to prayerfully encourage the “baby steps” being taken without forcing the process. When the time is right and the disciple indicates a clear intention to engage more fully on this discipleship journey, this must be confirmed, witnessed and celebrated by the disciple, the discipler and a small group of authentic disciples of Jesus.
Kate had been visiting a friend in hospital and, as she was leaving, she sensed that the Holy Spirit wanted her to go into the room next to her friend’s and say hello to a young woman in that room. As she entered she introduced herself and told the woman she sensed she was to come in to say hello. The woman in the bed looked a bit surprised but asked Kate if she knew anything about Jesus. Kate said she did. The woman went on to say that she was very sick with cancer, had been praying and heard a voice tell her that she had been heard and that someone would visit her who knew Jesus. The two women talked for a while but Kate believed that she had done what she was to do. They exchanged contact details and Kate left the hospital.
A few weeks later Kate received a phone call from Jen, the woman in the hospital room, who asked if they could get together. Kate cancelled some appointments and met with Jen who shared that, when she was sent to be prepped for surgery, the doctor was unable to find any trace of the cancer. Kate and Jen are currently on a journey together with Jesus and, as part of that, Jen has connected with Kate’s community. There is quite a considered process for Kate to walk with Jen before she is fully a part of the Body of Christ.
Let’s pause a moment to look at some of the important contextual factors in making disciples of postmodern people:
- Each one will want an authentic relationship and a unique journey towards Jesus.
- They need to be connected first with Jesus before the discipler, Bible or Church.
- Their growth needs to be more mosaic than linear with interactions that are just-in-time.
- The discipler needs to be more of a coach than mentor or teacher, asking more than telling.
- The base for discipling is true relationship and takes time.
- From the outset, the disciple is encouraged to begin discipling others relationally.
It is important that all of these factors are built into the early days of connecting so that the process is easily reproducible. It does not require professionals to bring about life change, just genuine disciples of Jesus with a genuine heart for others who are led by the Spirit of God.