Personal Discipleship

Don't Allow Facebook Groups to Replace Personal Discipleship

I have joined many parenting- and homeschool-related Facebook groups over the last few years, as well as groups for mom bloggers. Most of the groups I belong to were started by Christian women seeking to help others.

I think it’s fun to log on, see what people are asking about, give a short answer, and move on to the next item in my news feed, because I enjoy the apparent efficiency of digital communication. It’s on my time, and my terms. I answer what I want, when I want. I can think about what I want to say, write and edit and rewrite until I’m satsified. It feels good to think I might have helped someone work out a problem. So that’s a good thing—right?

Not when you realize the extent to which we can choose what we want to reveal and conceal, and the lack of consequences if we don’t exercise wisdom and discernment. I believe these are reasons Facebook groups offer an enticing alternative to personal discipleship.

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Discipleship in the Wilderness: Helping Our Fellow Believers Live Out the Pursuits of Psalm 63 (Part 3)

From Faith Pulpit. Read Part 1: Seek God Earnestly, and Part 2: Reflect on God Continually.

Praise God Submissively

Our words and actions always give praise to someone or something. As we walk beside our brothers and sisters, we have the wonderful privilege of encouraging them to live in praise to God. As we speak to them about the glory of their God, we will encourage them to speak to Him and to others about His glorious nature and acts. As we help them consider how their words and actions express praise to the persons or objects of their trust and meditation, we will help them to consider their conduct and live for new reasons and in new ways, bringing praise to God. As we help them praise God in the midst of the changes that crisis and suffering call on them to make, we will assist them to reorganize their lives with the goal of bringing praise to God in the midst of the new opportunities and limitations.

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Discipleship in the Wilderness: Helping Our Fellow Believers Live Out the Pursuits of Psalm 63 (Part 2)

From Faith Pulpit. Read Part 1: Seek God Earnestly.

Reflect on God Continually

In the midst of this life’s wilderness, everyone thinks; in the arid regions of the wilderness, thoughts sometimes scream. In these times, we must learn what captivates the thoughts of our brothers and sisters. We must help them not only to give themselves to learning more about their God, but also to capturing their thoughts with the truth of God that they know and are learning.

Evaluating Meditation

In order to evaluate, once again, we must be loving, compassionate, and wise listeners. Words both reveal and betray our meditations. We speak out of the thoughts of our hearts. As we listen to our brothers and sisters, we must pay close attention to what they say and to what they do not say. We must listen for words that are in harmony with the actions we observe, and we must listen for words that are discordant with behavior. As we listen, we should consider the thinking of our fellow believers in at least three important areas: their views of God, their views of themselves, and their views of others.

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Discipleship in the Wilderness: Helping Our Fellow Believers Live Out the Pursuits of Psalm 63 (Part 1)

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2016-2017. Used with permission.

In the July/August issue of The Baptist Bulletin, Dr. Jeff Newman, professor of Biblical Counseling at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, wrote an article titled “Dependence in the Wilderness.” In that article, available here, Dr. Newman explored Psalm 63 and its implications for growth during difficult circumstances. This Faith Pulpit article builds upon his previous work by applying the Biblical concepts to discipleship ministries. For a more thorough study of these concepts, you may purchase his most recent book, Dependence in the Wilderness (Regular Baptist Press, 2015).

This side of glory all of us will walk together with brothers and sisters who face arid regions of this life’s wilderness. In the eighth grade, Mary faces constant pressure from her unbelieving friends to turn her back on her faith. Now her friend, Sue, who in the past had encouraged Mary in her walk with the Lord, offers Mary a joint and scorns her when she refuses. Mary sits crying in your office, struggling to believe that God is truly a friend when He allows her other friends to forsake her.

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The Importance of Presence in Ministry

Going Beyond Public Gatherings

God calls every believer to teach His Word to others at a grassroots level. To motivate and equip them to do this, He provides pastors. These are responsible to “hold nothing back,” devoting themselves to ministry in two venues: public gatherings and private settings (Acts 20:20). While both settings are necessary, it seems that prevailing Western models favor public gatherings over more personal settings. Perhaps this imbalance hinders our efforts to engage people in ministry.

We work hard at our public gatherings. Pulpit style. Stage lighting. Usher training. Multimedia presentations. Music of all kinds: congregational, choral, instrumental, solo, ensemble, instrumental and choral. Service orders and liturgies. Invitations (or not). Announcements. Special events. Dramatic interpretations. Guest speakers. Sound systems and auditorium acoustics. We give attention to all these things and more.

But do we give equal or adequate attention to the other important ministry setting? Do we devote ourselves to connecting with believers in personal settings to the same degree? Church ministry that occurs only (or primarily) at a central church building misses a key element of the “hold nothing back” approach that Paul emulates.

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