Discipleship, Relationship, & the One Thing

discipleshiftSitting at lunch the other day, surrounded by pastors from Idaho, central Washington and western Oregon, on a break from one of the two day-long sessions that make up Real Life Ministries’ “DiscipleShift training, I asked them what was the one thing they hoped that both they and their groups got out of the training and ideas behind DiscipleShift*.

Unanimously the answers revolved around “relationship”.

“I came with a group of pastors,” said one, “some on paid staff, some volunteer, who’ve worked with each other for years but who know very little about one another beyond the fact that we’re all co-workers.  It’s all very surface and superficial.

“And it’s really through no one’s fault,” he continued. “I mean, everyone is busy with their lives, their families, their jobs; but there’s been no intentionality of relationship with each other.  It seems like there’s never been the time, because it’s never been a priority.”

Intentionality of relationship—a recurring them, and one of the central focuses of DiscipleShift: the need to create a core group of people who you can trust and respect; who you can “do life together” with; who you can pour into each other both the Word of God and the significance of a lasting bond.

But what does that look like?

This is the main focal point that pastors, staff and volunteers from churches around the country, and around the world, spend two days working out with each other.  All founded on the biblical principles lived out by Jesus and His disciples as well as the Acts 2 church; living out what it means to raise up disciples who raise up disciples who raise up . . . you get the idea.

“I learned more about these folks through this morning’s session,” said an associate pastor from Washington as he pointed to the other members of his pastoral team, “than I had in the entire time I’ve been working with them.”

“It’s never ceased to amaze me,” said one of the small group facilitator’s from Real Life Ministries, “the amount of stuff people learn about one another.  Things they never knew in all the time they’ve know each other, worked with each other: The struggles, the doubts, the insecurities, and of course the joys, the triumphs and the enjoyment they truly feel in working together.

“They learn about what they’re good at,” he added, “what they struggle with, and most importantly, where they can step in and help each other out.  And most of them go back to their home churches and keep right on meeting like this—in this small group setting with each other—which is exactly what we hope to accomplish.”

It suddenly becomes real; it becomes desirable; it becomes intentional.

Living out what it means to be in an intentional relationship, living out what it looks like to disciple someone who can then be raised up to disciple someone else; in other words, living out what it looked like to be one of the Twelve, possibly even one of the Three of Jesus’ closest friends and disciples; that’s when you’ve lived out a DiscipleShift.

“Get ready,” says the facilitator to his group as they head back for the afternoon session, “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!”


* For more information on RLM’s DiscipleShift experience (A truly outstanding training session for church leaders and staff) I encourage you to go to their Church Training & Development website (here).

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