Mentoring – Equals Disciple-Making

Mentoring – Equals Disciple-Making

We have lost the meaning of Disciple-making.  In the modern church, discipleship has become an educational process by which we orient new Believers to the biblical and historical practices of our churches.   Even in some extremely Bible oriented materials, the emphasis is on knowing the Word of God with some admonition to obey, but no one is responsible to be in relationship to see it happen.  There seems to be a misconception that if people know what is right they will do what is right.  Experience tells us that this is not true, yet we continue to function as if it were true.

Discipleship is about relationship.  The root of discipleship is a relationship with Jesus that transforms our hearts, minds, and behaviors to be what Jesus teaches and demands these should be.  Through the Disciples relationships with one another, especially between mature Believers and new and/or maturing Believers, there is personal and collective growth.  This positively impacts all walks of life and all relationships in family, community, business, and government.

The transmittal of information in the discipleship process is imperative, but it is not the most important aspect of the disciple-making process.  Disciples do not just know what the Master requires; they do what the Master requires in every situation regardless of the consequences of the action at a personal level.  Not every situation is delineated in Scripture, but all the principles are there for us to apply to daily living in every place we find ourselves.  Understanding the principles of Scripture,  knowing the mind of God, is crucial in the Disciple-making process.

Where new Believers or pre-Believers are concerned, principles are difficult to see and apply to the many situations in which they find themselves.  They need the influence of mature Disciples in their lives, and they need relationships with these mature Disciples that permit them to discuss any aspect of life, deal with any problems or sins they may have, and grow through experience as wisdom replaces knowledge.  Wisdom is using what you know to do what is right.  Wisdom requires knowledge, but knowledge does not imply wisdom.

Mentoring is the intentional relationship with others that causes all parties involved to grow in their discipleship, the process of converting knowledge to wisdom.  New Believers need mentors in their lives to help them learn Scripture and walk the narrow path demanded by Scripture.  Maturing Believers need to be mentors in order to continue to grow in their own discipleship.

A church without discipleship is doomed.  Pre-Believers and new Believers have no examples to follow and no mature Believers assisting them in their discipleship.  Mature Believers do not have people to pour their lives into, and as a result, stop growing or fail to grow.

The Disciple-making/mentoring relationship is a win-win situation for all involved.  Pre-Believers and new Believers have examples of maturity in their lives to invest in them and hold them accountable.  Mature Believers have people in their lives that ask the hard questions and challenge the status quo, thus driving us to learn and perfect our lives. 

The moment these relationship do not exist in our churches, we find ourselves in a lose-lose situation.  Pre-Believers and new Believers have no examples to follow, no one to provide wise counsel, and no accountability.  Mature Believers have no one to spur them on to new levels of knowledge and new levels of wisdom as knowledge turns to actions in thought and deed.  Mature Believers have no observers to challenge them to better lives, or to hold them accountable by being present, making observations and asking questions.

All Believers should be in mentoring/disciple-making relationships.  We should be mentoring others and we should be mentored by others at the same time.  As we mature we discover that our mentoring relationships become peer relationships that allow us to learn from one another and spur one another to new heights of obedience and success.

In the mentoring/disciple-making relationship, no area of life is off limits, including relationships to God, family, community and church, call and work, and even to ourselves as we develop mentally, spiritual, emotionally and physically.  We need to be intentionally engaged in a question/answer process that reveals our thoughts and actions.  There should be enough personal contact to verify the life of a Disciple and the life of the Disciple-maker.  Words are good, but seeing words put into action are foundational for the mentoring/Disciple-making process.  If a Disciple-maker is never in the new Disciple’s home, or never sees the new Disciple outside of the knowledge acquisition environment, then there is no mentoring/disciple-making relationship.   If the new Disciple is never in the Disciple-maker’s home, or never sees the Disciple-maker outside the knowledge acquisition environment, then there is no mentoring/disciple-making relationship.   There is only a teacher/student relationship which facilitates knowledge flow, but does not facilitate disciple-making.

Mentoring and Disciple-making are one and the same.  They require relationship and accountability on top of knowledge building.  They cause knowledge to become wisdom; the doing of right because of what you know.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25 NIV)

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:14-17 NIV)

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 NIV)

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  (Hebrews 13:7-8 NIV)


David Watson
From San Jose, California

9 Replies to “Mentoring – Equals Disciple-Making”

  1. Thanks for your thoughts. I am currently working on some discipleship/mentoring material for our church. I agree with you that a lot of the material out there is rather knowledge focused and seems almost mechanistic. The relational aspect is so important and that is what is missing from that type of material. So thanks for your input.

  2. I was reading in my devotions this morning from Colossians 1. It seems that Paul was just as concerned for the spiritual growth and maturity of the believers as he was for their spiritual birth. He describes his work as "struggling with all his energy which so powerfully works in me." In the immediate context he gives the object of his work: "so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ." May we struggle with the same fervor in our discipleship ministries.

  3. I found this an excellent article when I first read it but didn't have time to comment! Just read it again with renewed benefit – thank you David. I remember your visit to Dublin Ireland with Harry with equal enjoyment! Ronnie Phillips

  4. Yes this is true. What is new about this way of discipleship. As far as I can remember this has been done with the churches i am in fellowship. Glad others are turning on to this. God plan is never hidden.
    South Africa

    1. I find this amazing. Please send to me the names of the churches via the “Contact David” page. I know of no other churches that assign mentors to all members, leaders, and seekers; and use Discovery/Inductive Bible Studies as their primary/only material for making disciples.


      David Watson

  5. David. Thanks for the excellent and thought provoking article. I was actually looking for something on disciple mentoring when I came across this, cause I am currently involve in the mentoring program with a student. Reading the article helped me see the weaknesses in the mentoring I am leading and the steps that could be taken to do what is right.
    May God bless you.

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