Beginning with Discipleship
based on notes from Chad Holland, which Glenn Blank has adapted
We believe that Yeshua has called us to proclaim the good news of His present and coming kingdom and to make disciples (talmidim) of all nations, teaching them to obey everything that Yeshua has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).
In order to make disciples, it is first necessary to have been a disciple of someone, become a disciple of someone or at least understand what the discipleship relationship entails. We want to provide an opportunity for growing believers who are hungry to be discipled with a one-on-one discipleship process that involves personal challenge, accountability and encouragement.
We see discipleship relationships as different from mentoring relationships. Mentoring involves the mentoree wanting to grow in one particular area of their life or gifts and have found someone whom they look up to and respect that they believe can help them. A discipleship relationship is one in which the whole person and whole life is being challenged and foundations are being laid from a Biblical perspective. Please remember that we are not making disciples unto ourselves but rather making disciples of Yeshua. Since the people we work with long term will take on certain traits that we have, let us be conscious of how we represent the Messiah to them.
The long term goals of discipleship are threefold:
1. Teaching the importance of spending time with the Lord on a daily basis, centering our life around our desire to foster a growing relationship with the Lord and making this the priority of life.
2. Learning how to hear from the Lord through the different ways that we find in scripture and learning how to discern the voice of the Lord.
3. Be disciplined to obey what they have heard from the Lord (whether is be proactive growth, retroactive correction, conviction, repentance, theological adjustments, etc.) and be held accountable to follow through with the lessons the Holy Spirit is leading the disciple into and to what is clearly explained in Scripture.
Some people being discipled need lessons in areas that others may not. It is up to the discipler to discern what areas in the life of the disciple should be address at an appropriate time while they may decide that other topics are worth mentioning but are already being applied correctly and therefore do not need to be focused on in detail. However, it is important to note that in the beginning of a discipleship relationship, we are trying to foster an environment of trust and openness and sometimes the early stages can feel a bit mechanical until the relationship grows.
At the meetings together, we want to make sure we touch base on a minimum number of important areas. Our time together will typically include the following.
1. Praise and devotion to the Lord together.
2. One-on-one accountability, asking questions such as the following:
a. How have your personal prayer times been?
b. What Scripture have you been reading? What is the Lord showing to do with what you read?
c. Are you actively involved in fellowship with other believers?
d. How are serving the Lord effectively, within the congregation and beyond?
e. Have you been seeking and finding opportunities to share the Good News with others?
f. How are you doing with overcoming sin and obeying the Lord?
g. What would you like to pray about together?
3. Review the previous assignment.
4. Give the next lesson and assignment.
5. Close in prayer, focussing on matters that came up in accountability and the lesson.
At first, the one-on-one time will focus on establishing a rapport and transparency between the discipler and disciple. So the discipler begins by ask the discipler about two or three areas in which the disciple personally has challenges and need to grow. The discipler should share an example from your own experience, to demonstrate transparency and trust. By the time will get to the lesson on Growing in the Ruach, we should be covering the questions above. A good pattern of connection is for the discipler and the disciple meet together face to face once a week or at least once every two weeks. We also encourage a weekly phone call to check in on how things are going and for potential accountability and prayer needs. Here are some topics to cover, laying the foundations for an ongoing relationship and increasing spiritual maturity.
1.Trusting in the Good News (Besorah), Lordship (Adonai), and Personal Testimony
2.Repentance (Teshuvah), Atonement (Kapporah) and Forgiveness (Slichah)
3.Immersion in Water (Tevilah b''''''''Mayim) and the Holy Spirit (Tevilah b''''''''Ruach HaKodesh)
4.Growing in the Ruach: Prayer, Scripture, Fellowship, Service, and Witness
6.Grace, Mercy and Torah
7.Hearing from God
8.Fruit of the Spirit
10. Lifestyle Patterns
11. Armor of God
12. Servanthood (Avodah)
14. Character Traits of the Messiah
15. Messianic Jewish Theology Basics (Grace and Torah)
16. Healthy Non-Negotiable Patterns
17. Tithing and Financial Discipline
18. Presenting the Kingdom of God Message Effectively
1. Trusting in the Good News (Besorah), Lordship (Adonai), and Personal Testimony - The foundation of becoming of disciple (talmid) of Yeshua is understanding the Good News: how greatly God loves us, from the creation, so much so that He sent Messiah into the world to heal us and die to make atonement for us. It is important that when we begin we get each person to explain their experience of salvation. It is also crucial that the disciple understand and confess that Yeshua is Adonai, and be committed to following Him as Lord and obeying His word. A clear testimony established a foundation, making sure that the life of the disciple is truly built on the Rock, which is Messiah and His Word. They should also have a basic and correct understanding of salvation, including justification (being declared righteous through trust in what Messiah Yeshua has done for us), sanctification (the ongoing process of becoming holy, or more or more conformed to the image or character of Messiah), and glorification (the reward of seeing Him face to face in glorious bodies), and the corporate salvation of Israel and the world. At the center of the testimony, the disciple should be able to explain what Messiah has done for us, and how it brought about a change from patterns of sin and selfishness to patterns of holiness and service. The disciple is well versed and articulate in their own personal testimony so that they are prepared to witness the good news accurately as the Lord to others. The discipler should be on the lookout for someone who cannot say much about their salvation experience. Even if they were very young, the impact, if it were genuine, should have been immense, leaving a clear mark of devotion to the Lord. Articulating the personal testimony with a short presentation of the Besorah may take many weeks of practice.
2. Repentance (Teshuvah), Atonement (Kapporah) and Forgiveness (Slichah) - The disciple must be really solid on understanding what Yeshua has done for each of us personally. Our people will really get bogged down if they do not get the full revelation of the total forgiveness and atonement of the Lord. They must understand that genuine repentance involves total surrender and turning away from sin to walk in the way of the Lord. Total identification with the sacrifice on the tree (see Galatians 2:20) sets us free from any bondage we may have been walking in. We want to encourage them in daily repentance and keeping short accounts with God. Watch out for symptoms of "not feeling loved" because that generally means forgiveness has either not been understood or accepted. Watch out for a critical or prideful spirit. This generally means true repentance has not been understood or walked out yet. We need to teach the disciple the pattern of radical transformation that turning to Yeshua as Adonai produces, as we see happening to Jewish talmidim in Acts 2.
3. Immersion (Tevilah) in Water and the Holy Spirit - Next we need to make sure that those we are working with understand the Biblical basis and spiritual dynamics of what it means to be immersed in water. Then we want them to understand the importance and the value of inviting the Holy Spirit to live within them, guide them, convict them, etc. We want to begin to focus on hearing the small still voice of the Spirit. If they have not been immersed in water we need to encourage them to do so. We should gather a team of Spirit-filled believers to pray and lay hands on the disciples for the immersion in the Ruach. When they have been filled with the Holy Spirit we should be able to see and discern the fruit of the Spirit at work, even in the beginning stages of maturity. There should be a Kingdom orientation.
4. Growing in the Ruach - Next we want to establish basic patterns for ongoing spiritual growth. A common metaphor that helps disciples visualize what is necessary is a wheel and spokes. The hub is what provides the power (the Spirit of God); the wheel is what meets the road (our everyday lives); and the spokes transfer power from the hub to the wheel: prayer, bible reading/study, fellowship, service, and witness. Note that the accountability questions above should cover the steady growth of the disciple with all these spokes.
5. Prayer (Tefilah) - We need to build a consistent discipline of prayer into the disciple. We need to discuss with them the basic structure of the prayer the Lord taught his talmidim in Matthew 6. We study the Good News of the Kingdom and the meaning of praying, "Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven." We need to make sure that the disciple understands the ancient prayers of our people, such as the Shema, the Amidah and the Kaddish, and how to pray with kavanah (intention or faith-filled focus). We are to pray for the order of the Kingdom of God in every sphere of life, and be prepared to bring His order into effect as He has put us in a position of influence and spiritual authority. We are praying for the will that order to be manifest on earth through our Ruach-empowered efforts. This is also a good time to discuss intercessory prayer for the needs of others as well as the theology and benefit of praying in the Spirit. Watch out for those who tell you they do not know what to pray for. It may be necessary to help them establish a prayer list for them in the beginning until they learn how to follow the leading of the Lord. We want to help our talmidim establish a daily prayer time that is powerful and applicable to where God has them in their life presently. Prayer includes thanksgiving, praise and worship, confession and making requests, listening and quiet meditation, intercession for others, Scripture reading, and possibly other sources of study as the Lord leads. These do not all have to be done on the same day, but all should be in a regular, active rotation in our lives. One possibility is starting with a 10-10-10 model: 10 minutes in the Scriptures, 10 minutes in prayer, and 10 minutes in quiet meditation, listening to what the Lord would speak. This is only a starting point that we hope will grow overtime. We need to make sure that each time we have our devotions that we connect with the Lord and that there is a take away application to our lives. Journaling may be helpful for some. The journal can then be reviewed and discussed at the discipleship meetings together. Another useful technique is called SOAP: Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer, and provides a simple structure for Scripture-based devotions and journaling. Help the disciple to understand that the majority of their spiritual growth will come out of their personal devotions with the Lord each day. Watch out for the person who struggles to get regular time in devotions. It may be necessary to discuss self-discipline, laziness or even time management with them. You may also find it necessary to teach your disciple how to study Scripture, how to pray and the benefits of sitting quietly before the Lord.
6. Grace, Mercy and Torah - We need to make sure that our disciples understand the role of grace (all elements - unmerited favor, undeserving sacrifice, and the empowerment of the Spirit to obey) as well as what is mercy from God. We can then discuss the role that law plays in our lives as a guide, convicting us of sin, a means protecting the innocent and an overall gift from God. Watch out for those that begin to lean heavily or legalistically on law at this point. Yeshua must remain the most important element in our lives and we seek to obey His instruction out of our love and trust for Him.
7. Hearing from God - We want to begin to discuss and study the many different ways we hear from God. We can defend at least 12 ways in scripture that need to be studied. We want to encourage those we work with to be open to hearing from the Lord in any of these ways, as well as help them to understand the way in which the Lord speaks to them most often.We want the disciple to understand that as they learn to discern the voice of the Lord over that of the devil, the flesh and the world, that they should be able to compare what the Lord shows them to the consistency in scripture. They should also be open to sharing what they believe they have heard from the Lord with you, the discipler, so that you can provide confirmation or concern for what they are hearing. The object is not to hear God for them, but rather to teach them how to consistently hear from God. This will produce long term confidence once they have mastered hearing the voice of the Lord.
8. Fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5. We want to focus on each fruit of the Spirit as evidence that the Spirit of God dwells within us and use the fruit to help usunderstand our strengths and weaknesses in our character.
9. Character Development - We will constantly be watching for and encouraging character development in our talmidim. A follower of Yeshua should grow in integrity, perseverance, faith, hope and love. We will discern needs from conversations, assignments, prayer needs, relationship interaction with others, and many other ways. We want to foster an environment that stands on the principle that character is more important than how gifted someone may be. It is not our belief that anyone should serve publicly or have influential responsibility until their character has been firmly established in integrity. In the beginning of the relationship, you will rely on their openness to work on these areas. Later on, the discipler should feel an openness to broach the subject.
10. Lifestyle Patterns - It is a very helpful exercise to work on lifestyle patterns because many people do not make the connection between Godly living and outside influences that continually cause them to stumble. Some important areas to discuss are TV viewing, movies, reading material, sleep patterns, exercise, eating habits, relationship patterns, work habits, etc. Many people do not have balance in their lives or success in the kingdom because they are not being careful to order their lives by the values of the kingdom of God. This is also the time to discuss areas of besetting sin for which they have struggled to let go of. Further council with elders may be necessary if victory is not walked out. Watch out for those that try to shut everyone out when their actual life patterns are discussed. This usually exposes that they are not genuinely open to the voice of the Lord teaching them to make adjustments in their lives. Lifestyle patterns also include learning how to live a Messianic Jewish life style.
11. Armor of God - Ephesians 6. Many people do not understand that dynamics of spiritual warfare. We need to be instructing disciples that the enemy is real, he has aplan to destroy, he is sneaky and that God has given us the tools we will needto overcome and live pure and holy lives before Him.
12. Servanthood - We want to instill in everyone the Yeshua-like character trait of servanthood.We want everyone to be actively seeking a place to serve inside the body, whether seen or unseen. We also want them to understand that serving is sometimes done sacrificially in areas that we are not really thrilled about (taking out trash, cleaning building, running the sound, folding bulletins, yard work, etc.) Watch out for the person who exhibits a tendency to be above serving others. Pride will choke out their ability to grow in the Messiah.
13. Gifts/Callings - It is helpful to assist the disciple in understanding what areas in life the Lord is releasing spiritual gifts. It is important not to confuse natural talents and spiritual gifts. The Lord can transform natural abilities with his Spirit, but only after the believer has surrendered his own abilities totally to the Lord. Discerning spiritual gifts, based on Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, can aid the disciple in plugging into long-term serving areas. Ephesians 4 describes what we call the leadership or governing gifts and should be understood for someone with a future calling of five-fold level leadership, equipping others in ministries. Watch out for those who do not have an accurate self image. Most often this expresses itself in people thinking they are prophets or prophetic and or teachers. They will soon get frustrated if people do not receive them this way. It should be noted that the community around us confirms what our gifts are and not necessarily us in the long run.
14. Character Traits of the Messiah - Study of the Gospels - Each person should be well versed in the stories in the life of Yeshua. This should be a launching pad for discussions about humility, meeting needs of others, compassion, parables, miracles, faith, holy living, serving, the kingdom of God and many others.
15. Messianic Jewish Theology basics (recommend The Irrevocable Call and select MLI materials) - it is important by this time to make sure that the disciple has a grasp of Messianic Jewish Theology, the role of Israel, how Jew and Gentile are called together, Covenant responsibility of the Jewish people versus Covenant opportunity of engrafting for Gentiles. It is important to dispel any errors in replacement or legalistic theology. It would be helpful for the disciples to also read the handouts "Joining Israel without becoming a Jew," "One Law Movements" and "Ephraimites."
16. Establishing healthy, non-negotiable patterns - Each disciple needs to grab hold of the importance of having anchors in their lives.We see some of these anchors as their daily devotions, Shabbat worship with a community, Havurah group connections, Shabbat home celebrations and finding areas to serve. We should challenge our disciples to ask the Ruach what patterns or to be established and not negotiated with in our daily and weekly schedules.
17. Tithing and Biblical Finances - this is really a faith lesson. Yeshua commended the faith of the woman who put her tithe in the Temple offerings box by faith. The tithing principle can be found all throughout scripture in both the Tanakh and the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant). The overall lesson to learn is that we can accomplish more by obeying the Lord and receiving His supernatural blessing than we could by our own strength. This lesson could also touch on striving. This lesson can also lay a foundation for sound biblical finances: trusting in the Lord to provide our daily needs for the Kingdom, staying out of debt, living within our means, saving and wise investments, and generosity.
18. How to Present the Kingdom of God Message Effectively - Though we began with this lesson, we should make sure that talmidim are ready to give their personal testimony and share the Good News. They may need some practice to succinctly articulate the gospel message of the Kingdom of God availability through the work of Yeshua. We should study how John, Yeshua, Peter and Paul all proclaimed the Good News. We should study how the Ten Commandments can bring unbelievers to conviction about their need to repent and trust in the Good News. We should encourage disciples to offer to pray for others for healing and assurance that the Good News is true. Disciples should have a strong conviction themselves that the power of the Kingdom of God is available today, just as it was when Yeshua and his talmidim proclaimed it in Israel and to the ends of the earth. They should also be ready now to teach a new disciple how to follow Yeshua, starting with this outline.
By this point the discipling relationship should begin to take on momentum of its own. The discipler will know where the disciple struggles versus where they have grown. The areas that are continual struggles need to be worked on. You should also have a greater level of openness that will help with transparency and accountability. It is also important to spend time praying with the disciple, encouraging them that God loves them and emphasizing using their strengths to serve the Kingdom of God.
A second series of discipleship lesson focuses on mature relationships in the body, addressing such issues as biblical friendship, covenant relationships, conflict resolution, encouragement,etc. A third series of discipleship lessons will focus on leadership development. Contact Glenn Blank or Chad Holland for more details.
Rabbi Glenn Blank has developed detailed study materials for each of the first 15 lessons, which are available from him upon request. Here is the introductory lesson and here is the first assignment. Please contact Rabbi Glenn Blank to let him know if you wish to use these materials and/or see additional lessons.
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If you would like access, please email glennblank AT gmail DOT com (AT is @, DOT is .).
You have granted me many blessings; let me also accept what is hard from your hand.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer