“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
– Matthew 28:16-20
A disciple is both a learner and a teacher.
We define generational discipleship as when an elder listens and speaks life into someone who wants to pursue a similar path as them. Discipleship is the process of pointing people to Jesus and reliance on the Holy Spirit; it is woven within every aspect of a Kingdom lifestyle and is vital for both the upcoming generations and the older generations of the Church.
Gary Black, a discipler at G42 Leadership Academy and the World Race, sat with us to discuss generational discipleship, one of his favorite topics. Gary describes it as such: “Generational discipleship in its simplest form is a cup of coffee and a piece of toast.” What he means by that is – the older generations can simply sit and listen to the needs of the younger generations over a cup of coffee. It doesn’t need to be a big show as they share perspective, wisdom, and support.
Recently, Gary and his wife, Lisa, had the honor to disciple a young woman together.
After just a few months of relationship, Gary and Lisa began to see true transformation in this young woman’s life. She had lost her parents and experienced rejection from her remaining family. She had never witnessed a family operate in a healthy way. Her first taste of family was getting to join Gary, Lisa, and their son for dinners in their home. Through this continued relationship of discipleship, this young woman’s eyes were opened to the possibility of family. She had never imagined herself with one of her own.
She recently shared this story at an event designed to activate the older generations to step into discipleship relationships with the younger generation. She said through sharing life with the Black family and being able to witness family through other people in her life, she was led to her new truth. Despite her previously broken understanding of it, she was worthy of a family and the love that came with it!
According to John 17:6-19, we are called to pursue transformation – to become more like Christ. “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (v. 13) Jesus came to this world to teach His followers that we are designed and destined for the full measure of God’s goodness, and then asked His followers to pass the good news on.
Jesus was the ultimate discipler.
When looking at the example set by Jesus, we see Him teach, love, listen to, and support His disciples as He prepares them to carry the message of salvation and transformation to the next generations. Discipleship did not end with the 12, it has been a wild and beautiful continuation from one generation to the next.
Looking back at John 17, what does discipleship have to do with a full measure of joy?
Gary shares how discipleship has led to a transformation in his life that is not of this world: “After my son Michael died, I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
Gary was discipled through this painful time of life, and experienced a deeper understanding of what it means to become like Jesus: “I think the younger generations need to know that pain and failure is okay. It’s the place where we learn the most. We can hold good news and bad news the same way, and it doesn’t shake us because our foundation is Jesus Christ. Then we can allow the pain to start transforming us into something different.”
This the message Gary hopes to share with those he continues to disciple.
You have the opportunity to sit with someone as they process, understand and walk through their pain. This is the discipleship that Christ taught in the New Testament. Gary touches on a very important aspect of discipleship here. It is the invitation to see and speak into the unattractive parts of life.
Through experience and understanding, the generational divide can move aside as a new relationship forms and two people start to look a little bit more like Jesus. There is so much value to be shared with one another.
It doesn’t matter what you doing – whether a doctor, a missionary, or retired – if you understand that you are transformed by Christ, you can therefore, go and transform others. Transformed people transform people.
Imagine a multi-generational movement of God, where we get to all do this thing together. Imagine if 10 people discipled 1 person each over a year, and taught them to do the same. In two years we would have 20, three years would have 40, which may not sound very effective but ... by the 30th year, we would have 13.4 billion people discipled in a Kingdom way of living and cover the whole earth with God’s glory! In just 30 years, the whole earth would have been discipled.
Discipleship is a foundational value of Adventures in Missions and we incorporate it in every program, and among our staff.
Our hope is for you to believe so much in your transformed life that you cannot help but give it away. The truth is – you don’t need special training or to have all the answers. Discipleship isn’t about being a perfect example, it is part of our call as Christians to point each other to Christ, encourage, and exhort (Hebrews 10:24).
We ask you to consider the ways you can step into a life of discipleship – both as a learner and a teacher.
"You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others."
– 2 Timothy 2:2
If you are eager to pursue the value of discipleship in a radical way, live life on mission, and serve as a modern day missionary – we have World Race routes launching as soon as October 2019! The final application deadline for these routes are quickly approaching: June 6, 2019.