Leadership and Discipleship. Those are the two biggest ships in the harbor when it comes to the Church. It seems like everyone is writing, publishing, blogging, preaching, speaking, podcasting about them. We are inescapably aware of how we are (or aren’t) leading and discipling.

If you have been engaging the leadership conversation in the church for any amount of time then you most likely are already overwhelmed by the abundant platforms and programs, professionals and personalities, workshops and workbooks, conferences and conventions that want to teach you to lead. There is so much information out there, it’s natural to think that there’s too much to learn, too much to possibly understand.

And double that for discipleship!

The truth, however, is that Jesus would not have passed on a genetic source code that was nearly impossible to reproduce. Discipleship is simple. It’s not easy. It’s not always convenient. It’s not immediately rewarding, but it’s simple.  You are always ‘doing discipleship.’ The question is do you know when you are doing it?

Jesus would not have passed on a genetic source code that was nearly impossible to reproduce. Discipleship is simple. It’s not easy. It’s not always convenient. It’s not immediately rewarding, but it’s simple. Click To Tweet

Five Things Disciples Do Naturally

(A) Engage In Mission

Disciples leave the house and join others in the mission of Jesus. They join together in worship, they praise and pray. They sign up for service opportunities. They seek ways to serve their neighbors, visiting them when they are sick or grieving. They invite neighbors to do things together – yes, even college ball on a Saturday counts. They look for places and people who are in need and find a way to fill the need. They move house in order to be closer to neighborhoods or people that they feel inexplicably called to live among.

It’s possible to engage in mission and not even be aware that that is what you are doing. Sometimes we say that we are just “being Christian.” Engaging in mission is something that happens naturally in the human soul. When we allow our lives to be more about others than it is ourselves, we work within the Apostolic calling.

(P) Listen And Respond To God

Several years ago, there was a it song called, “I Got A Feeling” by the Blackeyed Peas. This isn’t a music review, don’t worry. The point of bringing it up is that men and women who aren’t trying to be prophetic often say those words. The prophetic refrain often starts with “I’ve got a feeling that God wants me to…” It’s a response to his invitation without using APEST language.

Sometimes, a person will attend a benefit dinner and say, “I’ve got a feeling that God wants me to sponsor a child,” or “I’ve got a feeling that God wants me to go on the next trip to Honduras.” In the professional world, a CEO can hear a story of an employee who has been the victim of an abuse of power and think, “I’ve got a feeling that Jesus wants me to overhaul our staffing values and HR policies to better advocate for our people.”

You don’t have to quote 5Q to listen and respond to God (though, I would totally read 5Q!) The prophetic just…happens.

(E) Share Faith

Everyone shares what they believe. Everyone. In addition to a Jesus follower, we are often followers of other things: Apple, the Eagles, Manchester United, the Astros, Google, Wines, Health, Hirsch, Wright, Politics, you get the idea. We share our ‘faith’, what we believe about what we believe in, all the time. You don’t have to be Christian to be an evangelist. If you work for a start up or sell a certain product, you are an evangelist. If you aren’t, you are out of business.

People are naturally drawn toward this discipling instinct. Finding ways to shift it toward Jesus attunes it to Christian discipleship. Everyone shares what they love. Disciples share Who they love. We don’t have to read this blog to share what we love, but we may need an evangelist to help you learn how to share Who we love.

[If you want to see an inspiring mash up of sharing what you love and “I’ve Got A Feeling,” check out this video.]

Everyone shares what they love. Disciples share Who they love. We don’t have to read this post to share what we love, but we may need an evangelist to help you learn how to share Who we love. Click To Tweet

(S) Care For Others

Caring for others is deeply implanted in the soul of humanity. We are carers, even if the care is directed toward self. If you look at the environments you frequent, schools, work, grocery store, neighbors, church, chances are that you will see immeasurable acts of caring. Once again, you don’t need to have Ephesians 4:11 memorized in order to care, it’s something we do, someone we are. Shepherds reach out to their sheep. It’s about love.

Take a look around you and notice the caring, the desire for caring, the lack of caring; see what a difference it makes, what a vacuum it leaves when it is not there. Many people have dynamic shepherding personalities, and many people are looking for dynamic shepherding.

Pro Tip: This is one of the simplest ways to help someone take a step toward Christ. Our friend Jon Ritner once said that when he sees someone doing something that Jesus would do, he tells them. Try that out. When you see an act of compassion and care, tell the person, “What you did reminds me of Jesus.” Non-Christians are used to Christians judging them, criticizing them. Ever hear a Christian tell a non-Christians that they are like Jesus?

(T) Able To Articulate Faith

People share information. We help others learn to do things, we help them learn and grow. For the most part, we are drawn to lead other people toward transformation. The teaching gift shows up wherever men and women are challenged to become more than they are. The Teacher meets you where are, but doesn’t leave you where they find you.

At the heart of it, the Teacher knows what they think about something and are able to communicate it effectively. Think of a healthy staff meeting. In one gathering, an entire team can be aligned to the vision, energized by the goal, unified by the strategy and clear on their part of the work. Teachers make the mission manageable.

Teachers know what they think about something and are able to communicate it effectively; an entire team can be aligned to the vision, energized by the goal, unified by the strategy and clear on their part of the work. Click To Tweet

Discipleship Is Helping People See That They Are Already Discipling

Discipleship and Leadership don’t have to overwhelm you, they don’t have to kill the momentum of your organization! We don’t need a super powered program in order to disciple. The simple form and function of discipleship is embedded in the DNA of APEST. The key is helping others see what they are already doing and align it to the work of the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd and Teacher.

Discipling 101 requires that we remain patient, be observant and get creative; we watch for words and actions that align to APEST and then suggest creative ways to help disciples live into their Jesus-shaped calling.

Try this: Instead of picking up another book, or leading a group discussion on a recent podcast, spend time with someone, watch what they do, listen to what they say and then move them toward seeing themselves empowered by the Spirit to exercise the capacities of their APEST gift. They will be: engaged in mission, listening and responding to God, sharing their love for Jesus, caring for others, articulating what they believe, or a combination of those.

You’ll find some serious discipling mojo. And it won’t cost you a thing…provided you already own a Bible.

Discipleship and Leadership don't have to overwhelm you, they don't have to kill the momentum of your ministry! The simple form and function of discipleship is embedded in the DNA of APEST. Click To Tweet

Simple Discipleship. Share your story of discipling in the comments. How has someone helped you see APEST in your whole life? Spiritual, professional, or otherwise?

Chris Harrison
Chris is a husband of one, father of three, musician, creative, storyteller, futurist and Editor-At-Large of the 5Q blog. After more than twenty years in youth, worship and lead ministries in Los Angeles and Phoenix, he and his wife, Rebecca, are planting a new multi-ethnic faith community in Houston, TX. You can catch his other APEST related posts and assorted musings at his new blog, fivefoldbible.com.

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