What is a disciple?
Jesus’ first call to His disciples was, “Follow me.” And His final words were, “Go and make disciples.” The word 'disciple' appears 263 times in the New Testament.
All baptised Christians are disciples. We are not perfect, better or more experienced, or less in need of God’s love and grace and forgiveness than anyone else.
But from day one we are followers, learners...apprentices of Christ. A disciple is someone who 'learns as they follow.' It’s about knowing things, but more importantly it’s about living them out in a way of life.
The life of a disciple
This way of life is shaped by
Being with God (who loves us so much and made us to know Him every day)
Becoming like Christ (who is the best model for any human life - as our character changes to become more like Him we become more fully ourselves)
Joining in with the Holy Spirit (who is constantly working in the world to bring the restoring purposes of God, and invites us to take part)
It’s the best adventure in life - helping us know who we are and what we are here for.
And promising us a future hope beyond death in which everything will be restored for good.
You already are a disciple in some way - everyone follows something, or someone - we all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We all centre our lives on something. Christian disciples simply centre their lives on putting Jesus Christ as the centre - at our baptism we promise "to turn, to submit and to come to Christ".
If you want to know more about growing as a disciple, see the Way of Discipleship.
It’s about Every Day Faith
Our calling is for all of life, in every aspect. Sometimes we give the impression that it’s just about church, or that some folk are more disciples than others.
But this is not the case - we are all God’s people. Everyday Faith is a resource which helps us connect every part of our lives to our following - there are resources on our Everyday Faith page to help your church community develop in making this become part of your culture and for individual disciples to be following Christ in every area of life.
Relationships help you grow best
If you try and learn a language you can read it out of a book. But the best way to learn is to hear others use it, and then begin to use it yourself. As the proverb says, “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I’ll understand.”
Similarly if we want to grow as disciples, relationships in which we share life, have faith modelled for us, and explore following Christ in our lived experience make all the difference.
That’s what church communities are so good at - being families in which we can grow.
If you would like to be discipled on a regular basis, you can join an intentional discipleship group - there is a leaflet here. It meets every three weeks or so via video conference for an hour. Each time we meet we are looking at the questions, “What is God saying to me? How am I responding?”
There are also people available to offer one-to-one mentoring.
Getting to know God
God is near us and longs for us to know Him. Through prayer and listening through the Bible, we can grow in that relationship.
If you want to explore how to pray and get to know the Bible, there are lots of resources on our prayer and reading the Bible page.
It’s a journey
Discipleship is a journey, an adventure. All that’s required is starting with God - He will lead you, step by step. Here are some wise words from a German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who famously gave up his life in resistance to Hitler, and wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship:
“With God one does not arrive at a fixed position; rather one walks along a way. One moves ahead or one is not with God. God knows the whole way; we only know the next step and the final goal.
There is no stopping; every day, every hour it goes further. Whoever sets his foot on this way finds that his life has become a journey on the road. It leads through green pastures and through the dark valley, but the Lord will always lead on the right pathway.”