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Becoming Disciples

February 21, 2013

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Sprit into the wilderness for forty days.” Luke 4:1

Last year I was part of a small group who read and discussed a few books by Christian authors Dallas Willard and Henri Nouwen. We were enjoying the support and insights into the texts offered by each other– but one member, Ken, a retired pastor, reminded us that learning how to disciple others had been an initial goal of the group. We acknowledged the thought, but didn’t really know what to do with it.

What does it mean to disciple others and how would one go about it? Frankly, the concept was bit scary to me, not unlike my reaction to a related verb: evangelize. I was fine with the noun forms of both words, but the verb versions made me very uncomfortable. What was I expected to do?

I tried putting it aside, but Ken’s challenge stubbornly stayed with me—finally compelling me to do some reading on discipleship. As I pondered the question of what discipleship means, I stumbled upon a Scriptural model of discipleship created by Greg Ogden over a period of more than 20 years. As I read his books, Transforming Discipleship and Essentials of Discipleship, I realized that they offer a practical solution to the question of what and how. Ogden points out that “Christian and disciple are interchangeable as we read in Acts, ‘The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch’ (Acts 11:26).” (Greg Ogden, Essentials of Discipleship (2007) InterVarsity Press, p.7).

Being a disciple just means walking alongside another to encourage and challenge the other to grow in maturity in Christ (Essentials, p. 21), much as the Holy Spirit walks with us and guides us in our faith journeys. Of course, in the process of nurturing others, we are also nurtured.

Ogden’s model is a same sex group of three or four people. It is a deeply comforting experience to be with a few people each week, and to discover how the Holy Spirit has worked in each of our lives, as we read, study and meditate on the week’s readings and the penetrating questions posed by Ogden.

When I started my first small discipleship group last summer using Essentials of Discipleship, I learned that in this model, the discipler becomes the disciple. I learned that we disciple each other. We teach and support each other as the Holy Spirit works in each of us in unique ways.

During this Lenten season, we ask the Holy Spirit to live in us and walk alongside us as we navigate through the wildernesses of our lives. May we also be inspired to walk with others as disciples, offering encouragement and support as we journey together.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan
February 18, 2013

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