The Friday Morning Men’s Group spent several weeks reviewing the “Discipleshift” book. During one of the sessions, the leader pointed our attention to this statement on page 134; “Jesus’ methodology was more involved than just standing in front of people and teaching them biblical truth. Jesus walked alongside people, having conversations with them through the normal course of each day, holding people accountable , and demonstrating spiritual truth to them directly.

This was Jesus’ method of ministry. Most of his conversations in the Gospels were with His small group of handpicked disciples. Even when He did mass meetings, He used them to instruct the people He was mentoring. He invested in His closest followers in a deeply personal way—not as an instructor but as a friend.

In doing some Internet research on another item, I ran across an article by J.Lee Grady on Relational Discipleship which is summarized in the following:

Jesus did not mass-produce legions of followers. He hand-carved a few—and they became the pillars of the early church.

We are called to do ministry this way —- Jesus’ way — by making disciples. But think about it. In our culture today, everything seems to be performance-based (maybe even church?). Over the years, we have come to accept that bigger is better. We put all our money and time into programs and events while ignoring relationships. We want the sensational , not the simple. We crave big meetings, bigger platforms, more programs —– and —– instant results.

For the Church, this approach is not working. Christianity in so many ways is a mile wide and an inch deep because we have come to accept that is best transmitted to people by preachers standing behind pulpits. Preaching is certainly important, but without personal discipleship leaders aren’t formed and Christians don’t develop true character. If this relational aspect is overlooked, our faith becomes programmed, superficial and, whether we want to admit it or not, horribly fake.

We need to be making indelible marks on people who can then disciple others. We all need to be more intentional about making discipleship as part of our daily life and we can do this by following the Five “I’s” of Discipleship:

1. Identify. Jesus prayed carefully before selecting those who would travel with Him. Paul selected people like Timothy, Silas, Aquilla and Priscilla to be his ministry companions. Who am I called to disciple? God connects people in discipleship relationships.

2. Invest. Discipleship is not a program. It has to flow out of love and genuine friendship. It is an investment of time into others. Paul told the Thessalonians: “We were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8, NASB).

3. Include. One to disciple others is to get them involved in ministering to others. We need to invite others to go with you as you minister to others. Let them see ministry in action and its results

4. Instruct. Jesus didn’t lecture his disciples; He wove His teaching into the events of daily life—a storm, the death of a friend or an encounter with a needy beggar. His teaching flowed out of His relationship with His companions. Discipleship does not have to happen in a classroom setting. It can happen at a doughnut shop, during a bike ride or in a car. Teaching moments can flow naturally when you are spending time with those you are mentoring.

5. Intercede. Paul told Timothy that he constantly remembered him in his prayers “night and day” (2 Tim. 1:3). The most effective discipleship occurs when the discipler invests time in prayer for those he or she is mentoring.

I realize that the emphasis of the book is relational discipleship through small groups, but I believe that the above principles can apply to small groups as well as individual mentoring/discipleship.