The headline captured my attention: “Man sues parents for giving birth to him ‘without his consent.’”1 Why did you give birth to me, he effectively argued to his parents, when life has no purpose?
Birth without a relationship is tragic; so is new birth without discipleship. Discipleship is simply the process of loving those whom Jesus loves. Let me share some ideas for an effective life as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Devotional life. Try to spend an hour with Jesus each day. Divide it up: a half hour in the morning, five minutes here or there, and some time before bed. Read or listen to the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Sabbath School lesson. Journal your thoughts. Write down prayer requests and answers to prayer. Have a prayer partner, an accountability partner, or be in a small group.
Idea implementation. Join an existing ministry or create a new one. The Metro Mission in Sandton (Johannesburg), South Africa, is passionate about seven-day discipleship, not seventh-day discipleship. Their life groups include FunDaMental (men), Clarity (Bible study), The Movement (youth), Empower Her (women), The Squad (football), professional business women’s prayer (women meeting for midday prayer), BeLifeSum (health), and Worth Fighting For (family life). These life groups provide an authentic place for members to establish relationships with unchurched persons.
Social media. Rachel Aitken, founder of Digital Discipleship in Australia, told me, “Meet the needs of people within your community in the digital space. Encourage your church members to engage in conversations on their social media accounts. . . . Provide support for people on your social media accounts, in forums, or on your church website. Consider having a section about parenting, health, or prayer. Host an online Bible study or prayer meeting. Livestream a cooking class. Always seek to meet people’s needs, whatever they may be.”
Community outreach. Every second Sabbath of the month our church has an abbreviated service, then goes into the community. Musicians, singers, and other volunteers go to a nursing home. Visitation teams go visit those who are sick and housebound. Other members serve at interfaith food shelters. We assist in neighborhood revitalization and in giving individualized support to move families from poverty to economic self-sufficiency. It’s about service, not serve-us.
Intimacy integration. When you got baptized you not only joined Christ, you joined His family. It’s not always easy to become close to people you don’t know. So make an intentional effort. Host a Welcome to the Family program involving your entire church, including new members, learning together about health, spiritual, family, and church dynamics, and improving relationships.2
Project Participation. Participate in a mission project, at home or overseas. I did a student missionary year in Ghana, West Afria, when I was in college. There is nothing like it.
Legacy building. Take somebody with you, perhaps a young person. Let them catch the fire of discipleship. At the University of Arusha in Tanzania, a freshman theology student was assigned as my translator. Victor performed his task well. I realized that this was more than a ministry assignment—this was a mentoring window. He later wrote: “Know that there is a millennial in Tanzania who is following your footsteps.” Who are you bringing with you?
Everyday deposits. Pray for those you want to reach, and for opportunities to perform daily acts of kindness. Deposits for Jesus: Every Member, Everyday Witnessing has more than 400 practical ways to make witnessing deposits, including social media deposits for young people.3 George Webber states, “Our job is to discover those who have been forgotten and do what we can to be a sign of love and hope. . . . [Our signs] will not be for the sake of getting new members or winning converts. Simply, we live in the style of our Lord . . . , offering our love without any ulterior motive.”4
A little boy was found crying because he had lost the note his mother had given him for his schoolteacher, explaining why he didn’t have a birth certificate. The boy cried, “I have lost my excuse for being born.”
When we live out what it means to be disciples, we will find our purpose. What’s yours?
1 www.wivb.com/news/man-sues-parents-for-giving-birth-to-him-without-his-consent1/1766482167 2 www.adventsource.org/store/adult-ministries/family-ministries/welcome-to-the-family-38153 3 Ashton O’Neil, Deposits for Jesus: Every Member, Everyday Witnessing (Port of Spain, Trinidad: Caribbean Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2018). 4 George W. Webber, Today’s Church: A Community of Exiles and Pilgrims (Nashville: Abingdon, 1979), p. 96.
Jeffrey O. Brown is associate secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and associate editor of Ministry. He also serves as pastor for discipleship at Emmanuel-Brinklow Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ashton, Maryland, United States.