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Discipleship: Helping us move from here to there

Posted by on Apr 29, 2011 in discipleship | 9 comments

Discipleship: Helping us move from here to there

I like to think of discipleship as helping one another (disicpleship is mutual) move from here to there. But, what is “here” and what is “there.”

The “here” part is fairly obvious. Wherever we are spiritually and theologically and relationally right now is “here.” And, of course, all of us have a “here.” All of us need to be discipled, to change, to grow, to mature.

But, what is the “there”? What is the goal of discipleship?

Too often, I think, Christians consider “there” (i.e. the goal of discipleship) to be wherever the “disicpler” (perhaps a teacher or leader) currently is spiritually and theologically and relationally. Discipleship ends up becoming a plan to help people believe and live like the “discipler”. In other words, in default mode, we end up helping people look and act more like us.

Bobby at “Deconstructing Neverland” recently wrote a great post about this called “Putting away the cookie cutter.”

Certainly, if we stop and think about it, we would not want to be helping people be more like us. We want to help people be more like Jesus Christ. He is the “there”. Or, since we will never reach perfection in this life, “there” means moving toward him – toward Christlikeness.

So, we are not the “there” of discipleship. In fact, while we may be able to help someone understand some issues in their lives, we cannot tell them what God is doing in their lives. We don’t know where God is leading them and how he is changing them. You see, that’s another aspect of discipleship that we must always take into account: Discipleship and change is a work of God; it is not something that we can do.

Thus, we can never know exactly where the “there” is for someone else; we often don’t even know where the “there” is for ourselves. Where is “there”? It is wherever God is leading someone and however God is changing someone.

Thus, discipleship is not changing someone or telling them what needs to change or even helping them change. Discipleship is helping people pay attention to what God is doing in their lives, and then helping them respond to what God is doing.

There are many, many ways that we can help one another both recognize God’s work and respond to his work in our lives. This is where teaching by word and example, encouragement, service, patience, fellowship, etc. comes into the discipleship process.

And, since God is always working in the lives of his children, we should recognize that discipleship is therefore a mutual process. Even if I am a more mature Christian who has been walking with God for decades, I can still learn from the work of God in a new believer’s life… if I’m willing to pay attention and learn from someone “less mature.”

So… we are “here.” Everyone has a “here,” and our “here” will probably be different from other people’s “here.”

God is moving us “there.” Everyone has a “there,” and our “there” will probably be different from other people’s “there.”

Discipleship involves helping one another pay attention to what God is doing in each other’s life, helping one another respond to what God is doing “here,” and then encouraging one another to walk toward the “there” that God is leading us to.


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  1. 4-29-2011

    Great post.. wonderfully put!


  2. 4-29-2011

    I thank you for sharing your thoughts on a topic that is much neglected within the body of Christ! When Jesus called Peter, he told him that a new future awaited him. He was going to become a fisher of men. Similarly, every new believer have to become a ‘fisher of men’. Therefore Discipleship is necessary to fulfill the Great Commission which Jesus began.Therefore ‘here’ every follower must take up their cross and follow Him ‘there’ to a land which flows with milk and honey!

  3. 4-29-2011




    Yes, and we can help one another get from “here” to “there”.


  4. 4-29-2011


    I also agree with Bobby.

    The “one size fits all” attitude which prevails in much of churchdom ignores the fact that each group of human beings tend to develop personalities. It is certainly true of the Christian groups I have been involved in and acquainted with over the years.

    Another sound reason why elders must be long standing members of that part of the family of God.

  5. 4-29-2011


    thanks for linking to my post and for your valuable contribution to the conversation. Here is different for every one of us but “there” is the goal for everyone. It is the “there” in us that leads others to “there”. We have to be mindful that we must embrace the “there” and let grace and love cover the “here”.

    Aussie John,

    I love the way you tied this into the need to have elders that are indigenous.

  6. 4-29-2011

    Aussie John,

    You should write more on your blog. Seriously. You have a lot of good things to say (things that people need to hear).


    Thanks for the great post!


  7. 4-29-2011


    Thank you for your encouragement. I would if I could.

  8. 4-30-2011

    Great post. A very unpopular reality for those whose living depends on being able to mass produce disciples. The book Spiritual Leadership: Moving People On To God’s Agenda by Henry Blackaby is actually a great book which walks alongside this post.

    I would like to have seen you reiterate toward the end that for all who follow Christ the eventual “there” IS the same but the destination and interim stops along the way may be very different for each unique individual.

    Thanks for writing it!

  9. 4-30-2011

    Aussie John,

    Yes, write when you can.


    Yes, that is very important. There is an ultimate end for each of God’s children.