Discipleship is a holistic enterprise. Any discipleship process that leads people to become more like Jesus will address the head, heart, and hands—what people know, what people feel and believe, and what people do. Whenever the people under our leadership do not resemble Jesus, we must take the time to discern which aspect of their discipleship needs attention.
Remember, we are in the work of making disciples. When someone under your leadership is struggling to look and live like Jesus, we are in the process of making disciples. Every pushback, sticking point, excuse, or shortcoming is really an opportunity for us to do the work of disciple-making. The “gospel flag” is being raised, showing you where they need the good news of Jesus.
Every broken relationship, difficult situation, or painful wound presents us with the opportunity to go to work and fulfill the commission Jesus gave us. Sure, making disciples means we must share the gospel with unbelievers, but it doesn’t end there. The same gospel that saved us continues to sanctify us—we are being saved as well.
Discipleship is leading people to increasingly submit every aspect of their lives to the empowering presence and power of Jesus.
If we lose sight of this truth, we start to see people and their pushbacks and rebellion as getting in the way of disciple-making instead of providing opportunities for their discipleship. We see this very clearly in the disciple-making ministry of Jesus in the Gospels. He was regularly addressing the disciples’ lack of knowledge, lack of love, and lack of belief by informing, correcting, and encouraging them with the truth.
So, how do we lead people who often seem like they don’t want to follow? How do we address apathy or excuses? What do we do with people who say they believe, but live like they don’t—people who verbally agree with the mission, but seem to never make time for the mission?
We have to discern through personal engagement whether we are dealing with a head, heart, or hands issue. Every act of obedience to Jesus is the result of knowing Jesus, believing and loving Jesus, and doing what Jesus commands.
This is an excerpt of a new discipleship tool for missional community leaders: Head, Heart, & Hands Discipleship by Jeff Vanderstelt, now available in your Saturate membership.
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