Big Questions

Missional Living

I have never discipled anyone. How do I get started?

I understand your fear. Your church appears to be attracting unchurched people. The leadership has observed your love for lost people. That’s great! Here are some steps you can take.

First, invite the person over for dinner or meet for coffee. Most unchurched people prefer to meet in coffee shops or other relaxed venues for conversation. You do not have to do the talking; you just do the listening. Author Eugene Peterson once said, “People’s stories must be listened out of them.” Pay attention the person’s story of grace, pain, struggle, and ordinary life. Most people have heart questions about God, Christ, and the Bible, but your prayerful attentiveness is probably the first step in discipling someone who is unfamiliar with Christ.

Second, find other people to support you and give advice. No one becomes a Christian by oneself. No one disciples people by oneself. Gather people to pray for you as you walk alongside the person. Don’t hesitate to relay any questions needing clarification or advice. Author Tod Bolsinger rightly suggests in his book It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian that “real godly change—real sanctification—requires people to live together in covenantal relationships.” You are beginning to take your friend down the road of life under the conditions of Jesus’ grace and love.

Third, find time to read Scripture and pray together. Introduce God’s Word as a relational journey with the amazing trio of God the Father, Son, and Spirit. Also, tell your own story of God’s work in your life. I imagine it is a good one.

Finally, invite this person into your life. Being a Christian is not an additional duty or task. It is allowing people to see your real life in action with your spouse, your children, your work, and your plain old living. May the Lord be with you, my friend.

About the Author

Reginald Smith is director of race relations and social justice for the Christian Reformed Church. He attends Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.