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The Discipleship Environment

04.03.18 | by Larry Gates

    Traditionally, most discipleship experiences were structured in a Greek format.  What we in the contemporary society would consider as a more classroom, teacher to student environment.  This setting is often referred to as an educational discipleship environment, with a “sage-on-the-stage” (an expert teacher) presenting information to students sitting passively in the audience.  Today the framework for discipleship has changed significantly.  The focus has shifted to a more Hebrew style of discipleship much like the apprentice approach to training craftsmen.  This approach is frequently referred to as intentional relational discipleship. In this approach the disciple-maker is more like a “guide-on-the-side” rather than a “sage-on-the-stage”.  Formal teaching is important to the process but not exclusive to the process.  The disciple learns by listening, watching, doing, and being coached.  The experience becomes much more engaging and dynamic, and less passive. The disciple gains knowledge, both intellectually and experientially.

    The following chart compares some of the differences between educational discipleship and intentional relational discipleship.  The contrast between the two approaches is shown to draw out the extremes of each.

    Which environment would you prefer to be discipled in?  All other things being equal, which setting is more likely to result in a mature follower of Jesus?  What then is the more excellent way of discipling another individual?