I recently came across a great definition of a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is one who practices following Jesus Christ—becoming more like Him in all that we think, say and do through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be the very presence of Christ in a lost and broken world so loved by God. (Disciples Series, Follow Me Discussion Guide, p. 10) Faith Alive Christian Resources) It not only challenges my understanding of what it means to be a disciple but how to become one. My experience with “discipleship training” in churches has all too often gone like this: Feel guilty because I’m not doing enough for God, feel even more guilty at how little I practice any of the spiritual disciples, decide to give up a bunch of time to take some sort of discipleship training class, try really hard to do better and then soon get bored.
This definition of a disciple of Jesus gives me great hope. For one thing, it’s an active thing. I get to practice following him, sort of like the 12 disciples. I don’t necessarily need to take out a big manual and do lots of homework or take another class. Instead, I get to think about how a disciple would respond to the daily situations and opportunities that come my way---and then act on those thoughts. I can evaluate my thought life and words and ask if they are representing Jesus well. Best of all, I already have the power to follow Christ within me through the Holy Spirit. It seems so simple, but the effect is profound. When I’m the very presence of Christ in my neighborhood, at work, in my recreational activities, or at home the lost and broken world He loves so much will be drawn to Him.
Small groups are about forming disciples of Jesus. Maybe it’s less about what we are studying and more about following our living example.