A disciple of Christ is, by definition, a convinced adherent of a school or individual. In the case of Jesus, His disciples were those who followed Him while He was on earth, as well as those who continue to follow Him and His teachings today. Discipleship is an inherent part of the Christian life.
Author Bill Hull writes, blogs, and speaks about discipleship, encouraging the church to reconsider what it means to be a Christian and to live a life of uncomplicated obedience to Jesus. One of his main focuses is how today’s church approaches discipleship.
“The most common paradigm is for churches to treat discipleship as of secondary importance, a needed activity that takes place somewhere in the bowels of the church’s infrastructure,” he says. “The reason for this is that discipleship is a needful process for new Christians, and it can be accomplished through laypeople. The leaders of congregations look for some good material or curriculum and in a few months, the work is done.
“A less common approach is to take it seriously and to extend the process into normal life. This is usually done in small groups and, in some cases, through one-on-one appointments. It is better than nothing, but it fails to address the most important issues of the Christian experience.
“The least-done but most-effective approach is for church leadership to become disciples themselves, to be the embodiment of Christlikeness, and to intentionally develop an apprenticeship system where they are schooling the next generation and even the generation after that,” Hull says. “This will require a serious realignment of what the church believes to be important. It actually starts with how you define the Gospel. Only when discipleship becomes a natural part of the Gospel, will it take its place at the center of all spiritual life.”
In Christlike, Hull examines the true basis for spiritual growth that, according to spiritual transformation leader Dallas Willard, is “nothing less than the settled and intelligent resolve to become Christlike.” Church leadership can benefit, too, from this book’s lessons.
“It’s more important to be a disciple than to have a plan to make disciples. And we are called to be disciples and make disciples before we are called to create churches and run them,” he explains.
“As C. S. Lewis said: ‘The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose.’”