Have We Made Discipleship Too Complicated?


Discipleship (as it was designed by Jesus) was meant to be passed on. Each of us, regardless of our spiritual status were designed to grow into spiritual fathers and mothers who encourage and raise other spiritual sons and daughters. But often we don’t because we think discipleship is more complicated than it needs to be.

In order for the Gospel to move from generation to generation, from house to house, or from person to person, it needs to be a simple message and an encounter with a person: Jesus Christ. Think of the church in China, or the church in India, or the church in the Middle East. Without seminaries, Sunday schools, buildings, and in some cases without even Bibles the Gospel has spread to more people than our Western minds can get our heads around.

Our complaint about growth like this is that these people can’t truly be real disciples. In order for this kind of gospel explosion to take place, surely the people can’t have deep walks with Jesus!

I would challenge that assumption. These people preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, taught to them by others. In these places, the act of being baptized can be a death sentence, not to mention sharing the Gospel and teaching others to obey Jesus. Many of them consider their time in prison to be a seminary of sorts, where they learn lessons from Jesus.  These same people are constantly spreading the Gospel and raising up new disciples. Many have seen miraculous healing and heard God’s voice clearly. This certainly sounds deep to me.

Often what we mean by deep is a type of discipleship that is focused on our minds. We feel like if we are educated, we will disciple people better. We’ve even created programs that saddle our fieriest believers with large amounts of debt in order to learn how to be good leaders.  For those who don’t go to seminary, we often provide long hours of training before we release them into “ministry.” This approach often slows the spread of the Gospel.

Friends, this is different than the model Jesus gave us. Jesus didn’t say go into all the world and teach people Greek and Hebrew. He didn’t sit down and have a systematic theology class with His disciples before He sent them out. He was looking for men whose hearts had been wrecked by the goodness of the Father and the Kingdom of God.  When He had enough of them, He taught them simple stories that illustrated truth and asked them to pass that Gospel on.  He wasn’t afraid to give these men the clear truth and let them run with it.

The Word of God is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.

– Charles Spurgeon

Our discipleship has to be able to work with only a Bible and a willing heart. We should be able to teach others how to follow Christ by our example and by teaching them how to read and apply God’s word.  This not only spreads rapidly but if done well will create the kind of believers that make disciples who make disciples.

Often, our responsibility is to not let things get too complicated. If we can do that, the Gospel will spread further than we can possibly imagine.

For more on discipleship, check out these posts:

Redefining Spirituality: Seven Benchmarks for a Discipling Culture

On Making Disciples

On Discipleship: Divine Truth

On Discipleship: Nurturing Relationships

On Discipleship: Apostolic Mission

Photo Credit: Holly Bible by Shay Tal


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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

One response to “Have We Made Discipleship Too Complicated?”

  1. godly sexuality says :

    Yes! The platonic divide means we have made the spiritual about the mental because we don’t have a holistic view of the world like the Hebrews.

    Our education system has become divorced from the “real” world – as it focuses on mental exams. Whereas Hebrews would train their children on the jobs.

    Keep preaching it Travis!

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