INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP

Editor’s Note:

We are thrilled to have a dear friend of Redeemed Girl on the blog today. Ranelle Woolrich has spent her life investing in women and leading them to Jesus. Over the past decade, I’ve watched her pour her life into others.  Ranelle is a redeemed girl who redeems girls! She loves the Lord, and I am personally so inspired by her life and ministry. We asked her to share today about “Intentional Discipleship” … a topic we at RGM hold dear. I pray her words bless you as much as they’ve blessed me.   -Marian

I’ve had a guitar for 10+ years. It’s made itself quite cozy in the corner of my closet and apparently likes to hibernate for years on end. At least that’s what I tell myself when I see it each morning. I’ve kept it for a reason; I’ve got great aspirations to play it someday.

However, not ever taking it out of its case and learning to play it is going to prevent me from being on Nashville Star one day. (Wait, you don’t know what Nashville Star is? Take the Voice cross it with American Idol, isolate to only country music, and you’ve got Nashville Star. But of course Nashville Star no longer airs on TV; I waited too long).

Now if you doubt my real intention to learn the guitar, I promise I’ve taken a few steps along the way. I bought a tuner at one point. I’ve had a couple of conversations with other guitar players. I even downloaded a guitar software that’s supposed to teach me all I need to know to play.

So really all I have left to do is actually LEARN how to play the guitar. But to learn means practice and more practice and failing and starting again. And then more practice.

To learn the guitar means to play the guitar.

Stop and consider some of the things you’ve learned to do in life: crawling, walking, swimming, and driving. All of which you actively participated in the learning process in order to conquer learning.

Why all this about learning? Because we are contemplating discipleship today, not just discipleship, but intentional discipleship.

Let’s go back a few steps and define our root word “disciple” and you will begin to see the connection. The Greek word for disciple as used in God’s Word is mathétés; simply defined as a learner or a pupil.

The disciples of Christ were called disciples because they were learners. Let’s look at how they got to be the learners,

“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers; Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:18-20, NIV

I love those words. “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”

An invitation: to come

An instruction: to follow

And an intention: to send them out as fishers of men

It’s intentional discipleship at its origin. Jesus extended an invitation to those first disciples. No road map was given, no timeline of what it was going to look like. And he found them right in the midst of what they were doing in their everyday lives. In this instance, he found Simon and Andrew fishing. He’ll find Matthew collecting taxes. And they all get an invitation.

To follow. The instruction would be over the next three years. Following, watching, observing, interacting and yes, participating. They were learners after all. Learners that would listen to teaching, participate in miracles, and ultimately be sent out as fishers of men.

Because Jesus had intention.

I think definitions just help us get on the same page, so let’s be reminded exactly of what intentional means as Webster says, “done in a way that is planned; done on purpose.”

Intentional discipleship. It’s done in a way that is planned, has a purpose. And the end intent is to make others fishers of men.

Now I am about to turn the tables on you, because some of you are sitting here reading and thinking how grateful you will be to have someone invest in you with intention, to train you up in the Word or ministry skills, and to make you a fisher of men. It’s absolutely a blessing when you’ve had others invest in you. You’ve decided that where I’m headed is to tell you that you need someone intentionally discipling you.

However, if you are a redeemed child of God, you actually have an instruction that goes like this:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20, NIV

You see, child of God, there’s an instruction passed on to us to make disciples. There’s not an instruction that says get a discipler, but instead, it says go and make disciples.

We’ve got the ultimate discipler in Christ Himself who has issued us each an invitation to eternal life, given us the Holy Spirit as our Helper and the Word as our instructor, and then commissioned us with intention to go make disciples. To go make others learners of who God is, how He saves, and how we can glorify Him.

In practical terms, it’s as simple as grabbing coffee with your neighbor or meeting a classmate or co-worker for dinner and telling them about your experience with the Lord. Inviting them into your life right to hear how the Lord has pursued you, how He saved you and what He is doing today in your life. Letting them walk alongside you in your day-to-day to glimpse God at work in your life.

Here’s a little assurance: You don’t have to have it all figured out before you share who God is to you. The disciples certainly didn’t. No graduate diplomas were issued to them before He ascended into heaven. Jesus’ last words of instruction did not have a caveat of “after you finish seminary” or “once you’ve managed to follow all the ten commandments perfectly” or “at the end of a well-lived life” go and make disciples. You probably won’t ever feel ready or qualified. But you do have a story to tell.

Just take a step forward. Intentionally. Right, where you are today. In the midst of experiencing the Lord redeem your own heart, invite someone else into your life. Instruct them in what you’ve learned with the intent of pointing them towards becoming a fisher of man. Not because you have all the answers, not because you have it all together, but simply because you are one step ahead of them. And because a big, big God offered you an invitation you couldn’t refuse. And while He instructs you, you’re merely passing on what you are learning.

Time to take that step. Learner, pass on what you are learning.

Disciple, become a discipler.

Ranelle Woolrich

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