The Relational Disciple
How God Uses Community to Shape Followers of Jesus
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Jesus lived with His disciples for three years and taught them life lessons as a group. After three years, Jesus told them to go and do likewise (Matthew 28:18-20).
Christ's way of discipleship was through relationships. We in the west, on the other hand, prepare lone-ranger disciples based on our culture of individualism. We do things alone. Jesus, however, prepared relational disciples. He molded and shaped them through community. He met with them for three years, traveled with them and taught them as they journeyed.
The early church also made relational disciples. Like Jesus, they focused on the "one anothers" of Scripture. They took the commands of Christ literally when he told them to love one another, serve one another and care for one another. In fact, Jesus told His disciples that as a result of the love they practiced to one another, the world would believe in His existence (John 17).
Love is practiced in a group setting - not in isolation. Over the years, I've written many books on small group ministry. I've taught about the importance of developing harvest workers through cells. Yet, I haven't specifically written about the need for shaping those disciples as relational leaders. And community is the crying need for those living in the west in the 21st century. So many are lonely, isolated, and in need of loving relationships.
This book will guide believers to take the commands of Christ seriously and allow God to develop us through community. This book will explain how to become a relational disciple. It will cover such themes as:
- New Testament Community: I'll talk about what the Bible says about relational Christianity and the need for community.
- The Problem of Isolation: I'll go into detail about the breakdown of American community in the 21st century.
- Relationship with God: It all begins with our relationship with God. True community stems from having a right relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Relationship with spouse: We in North America have often prioritized personal success over success in marriage. True relational discipleship starts between husband and wife.
- Relationships with family: John Maxwell once said, "Success is having those closest to you, love and respect you the most." True relational disciples prioritize success at home.
- Relationships with friends: So many don't have any close friendships. We've become a very lonely society. This book will highlight the need to prioritize a handful of close friendships and how to do it.
- Relationships in the church: The early church prioritized relational Christianity but the church of the 21st century has strayed from those early practices. Anonymity is often used as a drawing card for church growth. Using the latest statistics, I'll highlight the need to get back to NT relational Christianity.
- Relationships through small group ministry: My expertise is in the area of small group ministry. It's within the small group context that disciples are formed. I will focus on the need for transparency in small group relationships.
- Relationships with the unchurched: A true relational disciple gives away his or her Christian community to those in need. Relational evangelism is the natural flow of a life lived in relation to God and others.
This book will have forward momentum. That is, the goal is for a group member to learn how to become more relational and eventually practice the discipleship process with others by forming new groups. A small group supervisor could use this book to advise small group members and leaders to become relational disciples. This book will be important for anyone who desires to serve others by practicing the clear teachings of Jesus Christ in the 21st century.
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