Summer is coming - have you got your flip-flops ready? Maybe you are looking forward to sunny days at the beach or a backpacking trip to the mountains. Cool, because holidays are something we all need. More space to think, to be quiet, to meet others. To pray. Reflect and make new plans. What place do you give discipleship this summer (holiday)? And what role does it play in making your (holiday) plans? Five ideas to get you started.
Idea 1: Read a good book on discipleship
Why not? In addition to your slippers and sunscreen, pack a good book. Maybe "Discipleship with Impact" (Greg Ogden) or "Radical Discipleship" (John Stott). Or maybe one of the books by Alan Hirsch or The Diamond of Discipleship. Another idea? Find a good reading plan on YouVersion about discipleship.
Feeding in rest does something in you, it nourishes, it inspires, it makes you think. It also gives you insight in what you can work with, it shows you where you can take a step.
Idea 2: Invest in one specific relationship
In one of his videos about change, Ben Tiggelaar talks about 'ridiculously small steps'. With these small steps you will reach your goal, so make it small - and do it. The same is true for discipleship. How you can change your whole church and really put discipleship on the map is probably too big for this summer. But if you choose one person this summer and invest in them specifically, it will make a difference. For that person, you can be an example of how to live with Jesus. For that one person you can be available. For that one person you can pray. In the Bible you see how Jesus himself takes time for the individual, read John 3, 4, and 5 in that way. You can follow that example this summer.
Idea 3: Be intentional
Attention and focus make something grow. Partly, this point is already included in the tip to invest in one specific relationship, but here I am referring more to the content. It is not just about the encounter, but about you as a disciple - as a follower of Jesus - being a connection with someone else. Someone else who directly or indirectly invites you to also follow Jesus. Maybe by what you say, but don't mistake what you say for who you are. By what you breathe out. But what goes through you then? What does Master Jesus want to give you that you can pass on to others?
To be honest, I often struggle with this. How does that work? How do I know what Master Jesus wants me to say to the other? I easily get in a fix - and I think that is not the intention. At the same time I notice that when I ask in the morning's rest, 'Lord this is your day, I want to move with you, I want to follow you. Show me where I can show something of You. This day is Yours. I am also Yours. Use me. Amen', then that prayer is often not unanswered. And I think that is because I started the day with a certain intention. Because that day I look more with His eyes, listen with His ears.
Idea 4: Just go and do 'something'.
Don't you find it striking that Jesus doesn't send his disciples to theological school (the synagogue for example) for at least two years first, but sends them out almost immediately? We would think twice before following this example in our churches, wouldn't we? Jesus does it, and remember it is not the theologians who go on the road with Jesus, but a group of mostly simple men (and women).
So how does Jesus teach them? Well, on the road, by giving them His commands and instructions. We would now call this 'experiential teaching'. A modern word for what has always worked in the trades, and which is also completely in the 'master-apprentice model' that was so common in Jewish culture.
What about you and me?
Well, just go and do something. I challenge you to look for a command of the Master Jesus in the Gospels and just do it. Feel free to be creative. Do you remember the 'Matthew-parties'? Something like that. Or just get to work with blessing - how can you bless another. With the motive to grow into the image of Jesus. He also blessed, didn't he? Or to visit people. That is the core of the last chapter of James 1. What would happen if we just started doing that?
At least two things, I think. First, we would be a real blessing to the world around us. A light in the world and salt in the world. And secondly, we would grow in following Jesus. We would do the same things that He did. And by this kind of 'doing' you grow. Was it not the well-known author Stephen Covey who said that something only really 'sticks' in your heart when you pass it on?
Idea 5: Choose a moment, and reflect on your experiences.
Invest in one specific relationship, do it intentionally and just go and do something. That, in a nutshell, is what this article is about so far. But crucially, I think, is also to reflect for a moment, to pause for a moment and hold those relational, intentional efforts of yours up to the light and ask yourself: Lord what do you want to teach me through this? What can I take away from this summer holiday experience? And what next step may I take?
There is a danger in getting down to business and moving on to the next thing without stopping. So, standing still for a moment. What do you want to grow in? What impression do you have? What else is Jesus challenging you to do? Write it down, make it small and take the step.
A summer full of disciples who are on the move. Disciple-makers on a mission. That is my dream. And do you?
This article appeared on the cvandaag platform.
Written by Mart-Jan van der Maas. Mart-Jan is married to Talitha and father of 3 kids. He pioneers Alongsiders in The Netherlands and Europe and is the author of the (free) book The Diamond of Discipleship. It is his desire to see discipleship live more and more in the church, especially in the younger generation.