As believers, we have the wonderful comfort of the instruction of the Word of God; but to those who depart from it, there is little hope (see Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-18). Isn’t it reassuring that we have received instruction from our Lord and Savior? He instructed us to, “Go make disciples.” Scripture is unmistakably clear on this issue (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-18).
Our goal in discipleship is the maturing of a believer into the character of Jesus and helping them make additional disciples.
Often, as it was with Jesus, we must go up to the mountain with the Lord and seek Him on who we will disciple and allow Holy Spirit to hover over our hearts. (Luke 6:12-16) Discipleship often begins with intercession as we go to God on behalf of another. The discipler must divest themselves of any agenda and fully surrender to the Lord. With the guidance of Holy Spirit the discipler must be prepared to be humble, a good learner of people, able to model and practice the fruit of the Spirit as well as Christlike character. It is important to recognize that we are not trying to make converts. When trials or difficulties come, converts fall away. Disciples are willing to die for the One whom they love.
To the extent that we allow Jesus to transform us, lead us, teach us, and correct us, we will be used in the discipleship of others. In our obedience to the Lord’s commission, we are either modeling Christ for them, or we are modeling ourselves to them. Therefore, people will either be growing in Christlikeness because of our relationship with Jesus Christ, or they will be becoming disciples of us and our own imagination of who Jesus is. Their progression in discipleship will reflect our maturity in Jesus Christ (John 15:1-17).
Parenthood is a wonderful illustration of discipleship. For many people, their children may have been their first experience with discipleship. In the same way we don’t leave a newborn to fend for itself, we also should not leave a new believer to fend for themselves. They may come into The Kingdom loud, messy, disruptive, needy, etc. and requiring a great deal of kindness and patience. We will need to teach them to worship, pray, study their Bible, love, serve, and so on. Most of this they will need to see in action. When guiding individuals out of the LGBTQ community to become a disciple of Jesus, we must have both a father’s heart and a mother’s heart toward them.
The disciple maker has the authority of Jesus Christ to disciple from any tribe, tongue, or people group, including the LGBTQ community. We are called to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teach them everything Jesus has taught us. We are to teach the disciple all of Scripture, and to build in them the fullness of Christ until the end of the age.
In making disciples, we must always remember that the divine instructions given by God in Genesis 1:26-28 applies to all disciples. Affirming the individual that they have been given the authority and divine empowerment to accomplish these instructions is critical to the development of the identity of a disciple. Those coming out of the LGBTQ community to be discipled, often come with doubts that they are part of God’s Kingdom and that the Genesis 1 mandates cannot, or do not, apply to them.
These mandates are to:
- Have authority to rule (have dominion over) the earth
- Be fruitful and to multiply
- Tend to and cultivate (bring out the best in) all of God’s creation
- Continue living out our commission until death
Finally, remember this model for discipleship as it is demonstrated in Acts 42-47:
- Disciple maker does, disciple watches
- Disciple does, disciple maker watches
- Disciple does (goes and make disciples)
Relationship Building Ideas For Discipleship
Healthy discipleship exists in relationship between Jesus and the disciple; as well as the disciple maker and the disciple. Here are some key ideas to help you build relationships that will lead to productive discipleship in Jesus Christ.
- Get their contact information, full name, cell phone number, email address
- Talk to them about the next time you will both meet to do discipleship, and then immediately send them a follow-up communication
- Schedule regular meetings with them (no less than once a week, no less than 1 hour)
- Let them be part of you everyday life. Include them in special events like holidays, birthday parties, family outings. Take them with you as you disciple others, go to the grocery store, go to the gym. Find out what they like to do and do it with them.
- Avoid pairing disciples and disciple makers who struggle with the same relationship sins; such as addiction to porn or acting out sexually in any way
- Meet in public places such as at church or at a coffee shop
- Agree to an appropriate Bible translation, but be mindful of where they are, not where you want them to be. Understanding and comprehending the content of some translations as well as literacy in general is still a common issue for many. Use a children’s Bible or audio version if needed.
Holding Disciples Accountable
- Hold them accountable to reading Scripture and to times of prayer:
- Plan mutual times of reading and praying together with you
- Have them plan times of reading and praying on their own
- Watch for forward progression in their maturity, if there isn’t there may be a number of reasons (religion, lack of being in the Word, an area of freedom needed, misbeliefs, heart issue). Inquire of the Lord how to proceed.
- Cultivate humility and teachability by modeling it. It is prudent for us to take the learners chair and ask questions that will encourage the disciple to look to God’s Word as their source for truth. Character issues will resolve in a community focused on joy and connection with a strong group identity. Insisting they fully engage in a faith community is crucial.
- Teach them about God honoring relationships and to discern which friends or relationships are edifying to their spiritual growth, maturity, or walk with Jesus Christ
Discipleship of the LGBTQ+ community
In regards to the discipling those coming out of the LGBTQ Lifestyle, there are several areas of awareness that will be of importance:
- Community-the LGBT Community is know for its acceptance, sense of belonging, hospitality, lack of judgement, etc. In most cases the church currently fails at meeting the need for community. In order to be successful as a discipler, one must be willing to let people be part of your life.
- Most individuals with LGBT history struggle with toxic shame and a lack of relational connection. This will require empathy and compassion to navigate them through.
- Resources and testimonies of transformed ex-gays is vital as the disciple will benefit from a sense of being related to, knowing they can still be different and belong, as well as find comfort and hope in knowing someone else has overcome.
Remember: Our goal in discipleship is to help them become who God created them to be in order to fulfill their God given purpose in life and encourage them to follow the model laid out in Scripture. If we model discipleship as Jesus did our disciples will make disciples.