Note: I have this pastor’s permission to share our correspondence in order to share information with others who may be asking the same question about “why no discipleship curriculum?”
A Pastor from Makurdi Nigeria asked:
I came across your book while searching for this, thank you for your book. It really help me.
I am excited with this statement in your book, “God would rather have 10 disciples who are 100% committed than 100 followers who are 10% committed “
Why No Discipleship Curriculum?
Here is my question:
How come that the church did not have a discipleship curriculum for maturing believers into the fullness of Christ according to Ephesians 4:15? Most of what we have in the churches and ministries as discipleship curriculum only end up producing good church members who does not fit into the overall purpose of God in Christ according to Ephesians 1:9-10, Ephesians 2:19-22.
But the world has a designed curriculum that enable people become what they chose to be. If you want to become a medical doctor there is a curriculum for you to follow.
Sir, can we deduce from the scripture a comprehensive discipleship curriculum that when followed will produce a believer who is growing up into Christ in all aspect?.
Concerning a discipleship curriculum, I looked for such a curriculum years ago. Many ministries have such a course, and I’ve taken a few of them, including one program that was full-time in-residence. A few years ago I thought about writing such a course. I just Googled ‘discipleship programs’ and there are a lot of them available.
Of course discipleship requires us to learn many things from the Bible and Christian teachers, but the problem is that such courses can fill your head with good information, but they cannot change your heart into the likeness of Jesus. The world can create a curriculum to train doctors, engineers, athletes, etc., because these fields of learning are mental or physical, but discipleship is different; it is mental unto spiritual. Doctors, engineers, and athletes don’t require a transformed and holy heart, they only need a trained mind/body.
The Holy Spirit’s Discipleship Curriculum
As you know, the mentoring model Jesus used with His disciples was to spend time together, teaching them continuously every day. He used the scriptures as they applied to situations they encountered in daily life, over months and years. This is the same model He still uses, except He is now within us.
Continuous and Living Discipleship Curriculum Ministry
The continuous, living ministry of the Holy Spirit actively engineers and customizes each person’s daily life situations, lessons, conflicts, and choices. Over time, this results in a changed heart. In the Spirit’s discipleship curriculum our transformation into the likeness of Christ results from us making many daily small choices to die to self, resulting in resurrection life growing in that area of our heart.
Only what’s been resurrected in us through these trials can inherit the kingdom of God…our natural man cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:50).
We are begotten-again (Strongs 1080) unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus.
- When we repent and commit to following Jesus we are ‘begotten-again’ through the living word of God (1 Peter 1:3, 23). We’re begotten (with God’s eternal life) as an embryo of the son we shall become if we follow Jesus in discipleship. From this starting point, we grow into Christian childhood. Then we progress to maturity as we follow Jesus in the Holy Spirit’s discipleship curriculum. But, if we refuse to follow Him at any point, our spiritual growth stops until we pass that lesson—until we are willing to die to self in that area. This reminds me of the parable of the sower… we want to have hearts with good soil for God’s seed.
- Most so-called Christians today never get past spiritual childhood. If they’ve actually been begotten-again, their ministers haven’t taught them it’s their responsibility to actively cooperate with the Spirit in their own spiritual development. As a result, they’re passive. They expect God or
their clergymanto do everything in the spiritual ream so they won’t have to die to self,or exercise the responsibilities of spiritual adulthood.
- Hireling ministers like to keep it this way because their congregation stays dependent on them. This dependence makes the hirelings think they’re popular, secure, and prospering in their clergy position.
Pastoral Priority: Membership or Discipleship?
This is the difference between churches and ministries that focus on growing church members instead of growing disciples:
- Ministers who prioritize membership over discipleship always present popular messages that avoid ‘death to self.’ As a result, their members stay comfortably in their carnal mind-set. Their fellowship is fragile and social, not spiritual. Their house is built on sand. This is the broad, easy way that leads to destruction.
- Ministers who prioritize a discipleship curriculum present the truth that being Jesus’ disciple requires sacrifices. But the reward is resurrection life and true communion with like-minded brethren in God’s Spirit. Their house is built on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word. This is the narrow, hard way that leads to life.
Conclusion – Why No Discipleship Curriculum?
So, in conclusion, disciples need to learn the Bible and be practically mentored by mature brethren.
But the real teacher is the Holy Spirit. He engineers and customizes each person’s daily life situations, lessons, conflicts, and choices that (over time) result in a changed heart.