Discipleship Direction

By Jeff and Mary Kirkpatrick

It’s hard to say when it started, but discipleship has been a growing desire for our family. When our home church in Pennsylvania announced that the topic for their annual conference this year would be “Making Disciples Who Make Disciples,” we decided to extend a family visit so we could attend. It wasn’t just good teaching for us, it was professional development!

True disciples make disciples. We want to do more than just keep youth off the streets or start a Bible Study (as much as we are crazy Bible nerds and LOVE that). We want to follow Jesus and bring other people along to follow him too – to be people who also bring others on the lifetime journey of following Jesus. It’s about the life we live, not about more knowledge or the “sinner’s prayer” we prayed one time…or over and over again.

The conference speaker was Galen Burkholder from Global Disciples. Their organization makes disciples in difficult situations around the world, but they claim it’s a simple process. One of the questions in the Q&A session was “why is the church expanding in other countries and struggling in the west?” And Galen said, “Obedience.” Then he went on to explain and clarify. But…Jesus told us to make disciples, and they take that seriously. The Global Disciples organization doesn’t have a big curriculum. Half their training is “book learning” and half is practical application. The take-away session had five things to do.

  1. Pursue intimacy with Jesus
  2. Love others as Jesus loves them
  3. Pray persistently for people who don’t know Jesus
  4. Live generously as God’s stewards
  5. Rely on the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s word

Christmas dinner at the New Hope Youth Centre

We have been talking about doing some sort of group for months, never nailing down exactly what we were supposed to do. Discussion after discussion left us without a decision. But by the end of January we had an answer. We want to do a weekly prayer and fellowship time at our house for young adults. We’ll talk about what God’s word teaches us about life and how to follow Jesus. We’ll encourage one another and pray for one another. We will all learn and grow with each other.

That’s our current goal. Our longer-term dream includes shared living spaces for discipleship. Jesus and the disciples lived in community for three years while they learned from him. That’s how Jesus did it. Since following Jesus is about how we live, not just what we believe, we need to live in community with other believers and learn to live like Jesus. Whether it would be a tiny house community, or an extra bedroom in our home, our discipleship dream looks like a shared living space with young adults to teach not just the Bible, but how to live like Jesus. Maybe they will have jobs, maybe they will be at university, maybe they will be mission interns.

A few years ago we had Mary’s sister live with us for a year right out of high school, and it made a big difference in her life. It also gave us more of a vision for how important it is to live in community with others. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. This dream is not for everyone; there are other ways of making disciples but it is our dream and we pray it can someday be reality.

For now, please pray with us that God would call people to our group, that we would call the right people, and they would come, follow Jesus. You too. Come, follow Jesus. Make disciples who make disciples.