[See part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 in this series of posts on Discipleship for more info.]
Now that we’ve examined much about “the what,” “the why” and “the who” in discipleship, I want to provide some very tangible action steps and ideas for how to go about studying Scripture together in the context of leading and/or being led in 1-on-1 or 1-on-2 discipling relationships.
First, a few overarching goals of ALL discipleship relationships:
- Learn and obey the Word of God
- Increase affection for Jesus
- Increase surrender to the Lordship of Christ
- Reproducing discipleship
Practical ideas for how to get started
The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16) and the Word of God is sufficient to equip believers for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So what I want to do is provide some practical ideas for how to study Scripture within the context of a discipling relationship.
How to walk someone through Scripture
- Pray. Ask that God would be glorified as we seek to apply the passage this week. The goal of this kind of Bible study is primarily to grow in faith and obedience, not mere knowledge.[i]
- Read the passage you’ll be studying that week several times in the week ahead of time, reading before and after the passage to get good context.
- Read it a few times, silently and out loud, with a pen in hand. Note thoughts that might be significant. Answer the question, “What do I see?”
- Study a good commentary on the passage. The ESV Study Bible is a fantastic resource.
- Take notes on what the passage means.
- What is the main point of this passage?
- Is there anything I don’t understand?
- What do I learn about God, people or myself from this passage?
- Take notes on how the meaning of the passage applies to your life.
- What does this passage affirm or change in me theologically?
- What does this passage affirm or change in me practically?
- What specifically do I need to do (by the power of the Holy Spirit) as a result of hearing this passage?
- No matter where I am spiritually, what would it look like for me to apply this week what we just read and talked about?
- Create questions that will help guide your disciple into rightly interpreting the passage and rightly applying it to their life.
Keys to Reading through Scripture with Someone
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and for Him to use His Word to bring transformation.
- Study the passage in advance to ensure that you are confident about its meaning and life application and how it points to Jesus.
- Ask a lot of questions to the person you’re leading, rather than simply stating facts. One of the goals of this type of discipleship is to help your disciple grow in their ability to understand, interpret and apply God’s Word for himself/herself.
- Emphasize the need to obey what is discovered in the Word. It’s not just “head knowledge” that we’re after. We want to see life transformation for the glory of God.
- Emphasize the grace of God to avoid drifting into legalism.
- Emphasize how each passage points to Jesus, the gospel, the cross (commentaries like the ESV Study Bible can help especially with Old Testament passages).
- Don’t feel pressured to get through all the verses you planned to discuss that day. Be willing to take it more slowly, especially if there’s really good discussion about an earlier verse that goes longer than you anticipated. You can always catch up the following week or just take an extra week to finish the content you’re studying.
- Ask God to give you a delight and a passion for His Word that will be contagious and increase others' affection for the Word of God.
Tips for Success: For the Discipler
Here are a few things I’ve found helpful to ensure that discipleship relationships don’t drift apart:
- Pray for your group often
- Set a beginning and ending date to the group (you can always extend later)
- Schedule the meetings in advance (date, time, location)
- Communicate the group expectations in advance so they know what they’re committing to
- Be faithful to your end of the commitment
- Prepare for your group meetings 2 meetings in advance (i.e. prepare meeting 3’s material right after you finish week 1’s meeting)
- Be faithful in your preparation
- Rely on the Holy Spirit to ultimately guide your conversations
- Spend time with each other as much as possible and in contexts other than your formal discipleship time
Tips for Success: For Those Being Discipled
Here are a few things I’ve found helpful to ensure that you’re a joy to disciple (Hebrews 13:17)
- Pray for the men/women who are pouring into you
- Be humble
- Be teachable
- Check everything against Scripture (God’s Word is the ultimate authority for life and doctrine)
- Be a learner and a doer (good theology and obedience)
- Be faithful to do what is asked of you
- Be on time
- Be thankful
- Grow as a disciple of Jesus, and disciple others
Good books to check out on discipleship:
The Trellis & The Vine by Marshall & Payne
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman
 Much of this section has been adapted from The Austin Stone Community Church. http://toddengstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/LTG-Overview.pdf