I’ll call him George. I had never met him before that day. He walked through our church doors one late Sunday afternoon to “catch the evening show” as he called it. George managed a printing press crew that worked through Saturday nights and therefore he slept on Sunday mornings. That Sunday we met and started a friendship that would last the rest of his short life.
Our church was just inaugurating a discipleship ministry, and George was the first participant. We were challenged by the Scriptures to make disciples of Christ. Disciple means more than pupil or learner; it is an adherent. A disciple is one who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct. Our effort was not only to be followers of Christ but also to make followers.
What is Discipleship?
Discipleship is a distinctively Christian term. Culturally, we may call it mentoring or coaching (as in having a life-coach). The goal of our discipleship program is to help people learn God’s way of living as recorded in the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures, also called the Bible, is the manual for living that the Creator gave us. It teaches us how life is best lived.
A few years ago, I purchased a new and improved lawn mower, and it was delivered to my house with a comprehensive booklet titled Operator’s Manual. I read the manual and found instructions for running the machine, a preventative maintenance schedule, a parts list, and even a troubleshooting guide. After all, machines have mechanical problems. I could have run the mower without reading the manual because I know how lawn mowers basically work. However, following the manual will generally result in fewer mechanical problems and a longer lifespan of the equipment.
The same is true for life. Following God’s Operator’s Manual, the Bible, has tremendous benefits. God does not seek to minimize our happiness, but much the opposite, He desires to maximize our joy of living.
Christian Mentoring from A to Z
Our discipleship program is called Christian Mentoring from A to Z. It covers 26 key teachings in the Scripture—26 core lessons that can make life better. Those who participate are assigned a personal coach—man to man and woman to woman. The instructors are caring individuals who are simply further down the road in their spiritual journey.
George and I started the mentoring relationship unaware of what was soon to occur in his life. His progress in understanding the Bible was remarkable—not by baby steps but in quantum leaps. Life improved on all fronts—relationships with his wife, children, and co-workers, victory over addictive behaviors, etc. Yet decades of smoking had taken its toll on George’s health and eventually took his life. He didn’t blame God for cancer; he acknowledged his error of ignoring too many warnings by family, friends, and doctors.
God’s Instruction Manual for Life
Life contains many twists and turns, sometimes within our control but often beyond it. In each case, God’s Word provides instructions and/or answers. A discipleship relationship with a trusted confidant is a tremendous asset.
Jesus Christ chose 12 disciples to pour His life into. After He was ascended to heaven and the disciples were on trial for their faith, the verdict was reached, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Act 4:13). The disciples had learned from their Mentor.
If you desire to know more about our discipleship program, please contact the church office. We are ready to help.
Author: Sam Aylestock
Pastor Aylestock is an Associate Pastor at Valley Forge Baptist Temple. He serves as the College and Career Pastor and oversees building/property management.