"Discipleship is the process by which the believer in Christ begins to become more like Christ."
The word DISCIPLE comes from the Greek word (μαθητής, mathetas) means "pupil, learner or apprentice." We are told by the scholars that "... apart from a few exceptions, μαθητής denotes the men who have attached themselves to Jesus as their Master."1 In the first century understanding of this word, a pupil or apprentice attached himself to a master for the purposes of learning his teachings so as to become like his teacher.
"μαθητής always implies the existence of a personal attachment which shapes the whole life of the one described as μαθητής, and which in its particularity leaves no doubt as to who is deploying the formative power."2
When we talk about discipleship at New Song, that is what we are aiming at--a whole life shaped by Christ, his character and his example. Rightly understood and practiced, discipleship is neither insular nor narrow. It is engaged with the world and it is broad, involving the whole of life under the sun. At the same time, one has to begin somewhere.
At NSC, we have selected a new curriculum that we will introduce in September to help us all in the process of becoming like Jesus in our character and behavior. It is called Real Faith: Life Builders (Building for Eternity). We think it is really going to help us move forward as disciples (learners) of Jesus. But don't be fooled. No curriculum is a magic bullet. Discipleship has two important contexts.
One, discipleship occurs best in the context of relationship and
Two, discipleship occurs best in the context of real life situations.
My hope and prayer is that every believer in Christ, in every church in the world will take advantage of the opportunities afforded to them to build into another's life the teaching, character and actions of Christ. We want to follow Jesus's model in Mark 3:13:14 (ESV)
13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.
When Jesus called his disciples to be "with Him" it was for the purpose of "sending them out to preach." That is our purpose in discipleship as well. We want to spend time together with one another, one disciple perhaps only a little beyond the other in their understanding of the Christian life, both seeking to become more like Christ and both seeking to help the other become more faithful to the teaching and model of Christ. We want to do this in as life-related a context as possible, not insulating ourselves from the world, but fully engaged with it so that the preaching of Christ is by both our words and our lives.
God's blessing be with you.
1 Kittel, Gerhard (Hrsg.) ; Bromiley, Geoffrey William (Hrsg.) ; Friedrich, Gerhard (Hrsg.): Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976, Vol. 4:441
2 Kittel, et. al.