Paul writes with a great deal of passion in 2 Timothy. He is in prison, on trial, and expecting death. Paul writes to Timothy, his son in the faith, and the one that must fill his shoes, about the things that matter most. His great concern is for the church to continue to prosper after Paul’s departure. Paul is writing his last will and testament in 2 Timothy. His great concern is for the health of the church.
One of the things that Paul stresses is discipleship. Timothy, like Paul had done, must teach others the truth so that they would teach others the truth, and they others, etc. This is discipleship squared.
2 Timothy 2:1-2, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
For Timothy to continue Paul’s labors at Ephesus and beyond, he must be strong in the faith. He must be a grace-filled man. Then, he must master the truth that Paul has taught him, the doctrine that transforms, and then plant that doctrine and life in others. Those others must then grow to maturity and begin to bear fruit in the lives of others.
I think that he is talking about one on one discipleship, or mentoring. Some of it is done publicly, most of it is done privately, and all of it is intensely personal. It is the kind of discipleship that Jesus modeled. He walked with them for three years, taught them privately, took them to his public speaking, he showed them and taught them the faith; and he loved them even to the end. Paul had an entourage. He had several men and women who accompanied him on his missionary journeys. He was mentoring them as he was evangelizing, church planting, tent-making, and
preaching. Many of his letters are written to his disciples as they were now seeking to make new disciples. Paul lived with them, taught them, modeled life for them and used their gifts in the making of other disciples. It was life on life discipleship.
“Discipleship is both formal and informal. Many people are fairly good at formal discipleship. They can attend a weekly bible study, prayer, and some accountability. However, formal discipleship is often dry and unapplied without informal. Informal discipleship is the more life on life discipleship. It is walking with someone in daily life. It is going through the mud so to speak with someone. Not just the high theological issues but the very practical sometimes heartbreaking issues that we must walk as Christians. Informal discipleship spends time with a brother simply because you love them. The agenda is having no agenda. The agenda is life. The disciples most transformative experiences came during informal time. It was after the crowds were gone. It was in the hard times of life. It was as they walked through a field together. They probably spent more time in informal discipleship then formal. I think discipleship today thinks of itself in a more formal way, when it really ought to be both.” (An insight from Patrick!)
The Great Commission given to the Church is to make and mature disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) How do we do that? Life on life discipleship, modeling the Christian life, mentoring, teaching, serving together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We pour living truth into the souls of others that they might pour living truth into the lives of others. This is how the ministry of discipleship multiplies.
A healthy, fruitful Christian almost always has a mentor who is discipling them, and at least one that they are discipling. We will be encouraging one on one discipling relationship throughout this year. We will recruit and and train others in the church to establish discipling relationship throughout the church and even beyond the church. The work has already begun. Can I ask you to pray for this ministry? Can I encourage you to receive and participate in this discipleship program? This is how Jesus started the church, how Paul continued to grow the church and how the church in our day will thrive.