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Paul J. Bucknell
Basic discipleship is the place that immature Christians are established in their faith by developing their awareness of what it means to follow Christ. It is here that older Christians help train new or very young Christians. Like small children, new Christians are unstable and need security. Who would labor nine months to have a child only to neglect him after he is born? But this is precisely what many churches have done. Let me share another illustration.
My wife recently planted seeds in the garden. We know from experience that when the beans start growing, birds come by and snatch the top of the sprout, virtually destroying the plant. So we expend extra effort to cover them. We also pay much more attention to watering at this stage because the soil at the top gets dry and the roots haven't reached far down.
In the same way, we watch over a new Christian. Basic discipleship training materials provide the opportunity and guided teaching to pass on this kind of needed nurturing. By caring for these questions of assurance and providing good basic teaching about Christ and salvation, the 'child' Christian can in a short time of three months grow into the Intermediate Stage of Discipleship.
The strong Christian culture in many places has disguised the need for this training for a long time. The members would receive much of their Bible and character training at home. This is not the case anymore. To make things worse, the culture has been able to use the media to shape the thoughts and moods of God's people.
People can sing the lyrics of many ungodly songs more than quote the Holy Scriptures. The church needs to quickly jump back into the race of equipping their people. No wonder there is a prevailing lack of commitment in today's church. God’s people have not been trained. As the church takes on its task to disciple (train) her people, families will again renew their task of training at home. This brings about a stable society.
Every church should make sure every professing Christian has gone through a form of basic discipleship. We should train them in such a way that these disciples should be equipped and burdened to train others at this basic level. In this way, God's people can train any new Christian, whether it be at their home, workplace or gym. The training is simple and helps the Christian fulfill his or her obligation to make disciples.
One pastor who uses this training concept recently had an evangelistic outreach. About thirty people raised their hand. This was exciting, but not anywhere as special as the thirty people from the congregation (that is a big number for that church) who got up and counseled them. They would not only help the person understand whether they are saved but over the next few months regularly meet with them oneonone and lead them through basic discipleship material.
Notice that these thirty have not only been trained but trained to serve. We must train the Christian to participate in the training from the start.
Those who have been a Christian a longer time but have not received basic discipleship training need special attention. If at all possible, they should start afresh here at the foundational truths and move on quickly to the next stage. Unless the foundation is firm, one cannot safely build upon it. One can almost guarantee that these same individuals have already picked up a number of wrong thought patterns and bad spiritual habits.
More mature Christians need to disciple these individuals. If these Christians want to grow, they will easily adjust and grow. If they have a dull heart, much patience is needed. Certain bad concepts have to be taken down before a new building is erected.
Biblical Foundations for Freedom (BFF) has a lot of materials discussing discipleship at each of the three levels: this basic level, the intermediate and advanced levels. This takes a Christian from the start to the finish. We never stop growing in our life and service. We even have a diagram that shows the flow of discipleship and how this training can be integrated into the church.
BFF has three sets of basic discipleship materials that you can freely use. These materials are designed to train the new or immature Christian in today's modern context. There are other discipleship material out there, but they are largely designed for student groups and not centered around the church as they should.
My heart aches to see students who have been active in their Christian groups only to later never to become active in the local church after they move away. There are a number of problems. Transition is not easy. They have not been trained to adapt to a traditional church setting. They get lost in a big church. But the biggest problems is that they have never been trained to be Christ and other centered. They are self-centered without even knowing it in many cases.
Read on to get a better understanding on how these basic discipleship materials work. Even better, download one series, become familiar with it and start using it! Or, if you are interested in reading more about discipleship go to the directory at the bottom of the page. This will lead you to where you want to go.
3 X E OnetoOne
Basic Discipleship Booklet
A basic discipleship training series based on relationships.
Life Lessons for the New Believer has at this time only three lessons. It is being made as I work on discipling a few of my children!
The materials including the videos can be viewed here.