The Community That Disciples: 5-Essentials Podcast

0:00 0:00

God asks us to participate in the work of the Spirit in the lives of others.  “Go ye therefore and make disciples,” Jesus said. The local church just might be ground zero for this important work. In this episode of Breaking Bread, Arlan Miller and Matt Kaufmann outline 5 essentials for the community that will disciple.

Below are five essentials for the community that will disciple:

“Here I am.”
Discipleship happens in a location. The community that disciples practices being present with people.

“I am here.”
Discipleship happens in communities where there is stability. The community that disciples is committed to each other.

“I take you.”
Discipleship requires vulnerability. The community that disciples receives one other.

“Follow me as I follow Christ.”
Discipleship is an active practice. The community that disciples is intentional.

“I’ll walk with you.”
Discipleship is a slow process that requires patience. The community that disciples is fueled by hope in Christ.


Yes, he does, um, which is just an amazing thing to consider, that God would design his church to grow through the work of his spirit, but through the work of his spirit working itself out in the members of that community.  

Welcome everyone to Breaking Bread, the podcast brought to you by Apostolic Christian Counseling and Family Service. Excellent to have you along. Arlan Miller is with me here today. Welcome Arlan. Thanks, Matt. It’s good to be back. Great to have you in the studio. And we’re gonna talk about the community that disciples, that’s the title, The Community that Disciples. Not long ago, Isaac and Fred Witzig were on talking about spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation. 

This concept of discipleship is really key to that effort. Maybe to position this conversation, maybe we’ll start at the Great Commission where Jesus says, go ye therefore into the world teaching all nations. And, in many translations it says, making disciples of all nations. 

And so, we see, laid out at the outset, Christ laid out discipleship as the means for the transformative life in the believer. Speak a little bit to how we can maybe understand discipleship, perhaps with definition, and then point us where we’re going to go here today.  

Yeah, for sure, appreciate the opportunity, Matt. You know, the definition that we often use, at least in our context, to think about discipleship is the idea that it’s the process of learning to live our entire life in the way of Christ, and then help others to do the same. I think that last part, help others to do the same, is really where we’re going to hone in a little bit today in our conversation. 

What does it look like as we help others to do the same? In the Scriptures, you really see discipleship happening in some type of community. There’s a church involved, there’s other people involved. This is not Christ saying, go off by yourself into a corner somewhere and live out your spiritual life. 

There’s a place for the individual walk with Christ, but it’s often done in this community. And what does a community look like? That’s helping others to live in the way of Christ. You’re really widening our thoughts here to think that this actually is a community effort. And you mentioned the examples we have in Scripture. 

And certainly Paul says many times, follow me as I follow Christ. You see that very life on life approach. He sends Timotheus to certain places and he said, I want you to listen to him and Epaphroditus and he’s very organized at the communal level with this discipleship, isn’t he? Yeah. In one place he says, continue those things which you have heard and learned and seen and received in me, I think is, is how he says it. Continuing those things, follow after this pattern, which is what Christ did with his disciples. There’s a community aspect here, both for a level of perhaps accountability, but also for an opportunity of engagement.  

So, let’s go right there, Arlan. The topic here today is the community that can disciple. There needs to be a foundation laid, perhaps. There’s some qualities, maybe we’ll say it that way. There are some qualities that a community, a church community, needs to have in order for discipleship to be the outgrowth. 

Okay? We’re going to outline five. Yes. Okay. Let’s just launch right into them. Let’s start with the first one. So, I think one of the first things you have to realize is there’s a location or there’s a presence that has to be in place for community discipleship. We live our lives in a physical location and within that physical location, we have people around us. And I know, again, that line can get a little bit blurred today when you talk about Zoom calls and FaceTime and all this kind of thing, but there is a reality that those who are closest to our physical sphere know us the best, walk with us the best, see us on our good days and bad days, and there’s a power in that when it comes to discipleship. 

And I think there’s a certain amount of like, whoa, we’re really going basic here with these basic things. And we really are. And to your point, with Zoom calls and the other, we live in an increasing virtual world, don’t we? Where real and unreal is blurred. But really this, in this first one, Arlan, we’re saying that location and presence is like the basic atoms of discipleship, it happens in time and place with humans. What this calls us back to is this idea of saying, okay, are we physically present together? Are we going to walk together? Are we going to be in community together? It calls us to do things like make time for them, make time for relationship to show up together in the same place. 

Watch those distractions that they want to. distract us or take us into different places. All of those distractions that can just keep us from being very present in the moment, right? Participate in the moment that we are in. And we’re not saying necessarily that Zoom doesn’t have a place, and some of these virtual, our technologies and that type of thing. But I think what we’re saying here is discipleship really happens at the very fabric and basic elements of humanity. Yeah. And to operate there in person, in physicality, and I think that’s a beautiful challenge. And so, as we think of this concept of location, the community that disciples is a community that can say, here I am. Yeah. This is where I am. Here I am. This is the space.  

Let’s go right to the next one then. So, we have location, presence is required. What’s the next layer then? The second part would be a stability that comes with a level of commitment. A stability in the community. A stability in that community where we are committed. To each other and we are consistent with each other, but it’s this idea that it’s through the thick and the thin a little bit, there’s great freedom. I think in that commitment, if we live in this world where we just always keep our options open, this is hemming us in a little bit. But in a good way, to bring us to a level of commitment with each other. 

So, what we’re saying here, Arlan, is this community that is going to disciple is going to be a community that is committed to one another. We need to recognize that when commitment is at a crisis, discipleship might be at a crisis in the community. Absolutely, Matt. You know, good things do come out of commitment. 

There’s a focus that happens when you commit to something. There’s an investment that happens when you commit to something. There’s a purpose that comes as we are committed to something. And I think the Scriptures call us to be committed about that which is core. It’s significant to me that that was Christ’s instructions at the end. 

He says, this is what I want you to be committed to go and make disciples of other people in a community that’s near and dear to each other or that’s committed to each other, that’s the kind of seedbed where this can happen. My daughter and I stumbled upon a really special letter through a little bit of history research, which you’ll find interesting being a history person yourself. 

And we found an old map dating back to 1830s, we found an old map that signified that there was a church not far from our house, no longer standing there today. And the librarian there helped us find an early document that was drafted by those church members. Arlan, I’d like to read you this because it really speaks to this concept of a commitment that was happening in a location. 

We had on this tattered document, it read this, we, the believers of Jesus Christ living in White Oak Grove in McLean County, Illinois, do agree to live together in a church capacity and take the Old and New Testament upon the only rule of faith and the New Testament alone for our government and discipline and love and obedience to the same watching over one another in love. 

Watching over one another in love. This is August the 13th, 1836, Arlan. And then they had signatures as the community, the church community signed to this declaration of commitment. Isn’t that powerful, Matt? And that commitment, that watching over one another, that’s, like I said before, the seedbed that makes this discipleship possible. We’re committed. Yeah. And we’re going to help each other walk in that way of Christ. With location we say, here I am. This community that’s committed says, I am here.  

Let’s go to number three. Number three would be vulnerability. We’ve walked through this idea before, but for you to have a discipleship or a community of disciples, there has to be a level of vulnerability and reception within that. You have to go underneath the surface. Because we’re talking about living our whole life in the way of Christ, and that’s a transformation that’s not just surface level, that’s a transformation that’s deep. And so, as that transformation takes place, there’s going to have to be an opening to each other and a reception as we open ourselves to each other. 

And I think that’s a beautiful aspect of a discipleship community. So, we can have location and presence, we can have commitment to one another, but just talk about the weather. Yes. And that’s not gonna be sufficient for discipleship. You got to go underneath the surface. We have to go underneath the surface, which is going to require a level of vulnerability whereby we actually do share with one another hurts and struggles and victories and such and such, right? 

Yes. So that we can be properly cared for and discipled that you mentioned reception. That’s a huge part that has to be coupled with vulnerability, kind of fill that space out. Yeah. So, I mean, whenever anybody shares something about themselves or exposes a deeper part about themselves, there’s always a risk there. 

There’s a risk that can be received or there’s a risk that can be rejected. There’s vulnerability necessary for discipleship to take place. And we’ve got no better example of that than Jesus who did that so beautifully with people always receiving them in their struggle and in their mess, but receive them in a way that blessed them and grew them and modeled it. Think about that context of the garden of Gethsemane when he was close enough for the disciples were close enough to him to see him crying out and pleading with the Father and sweating drops like blood that was modeling vulnerability. 

That I think is something for us to consider and be open to in a community that’s going to be meaningful and go deep in discipleship. A nice way to understand reception is this concept of taking people, we even have that, I don’t know if that’s in the vows or not, a marriage vows. Do you take so and so? Yes. Right? It very much is a reception. Do you take so and so for ill and for good? Maybe that’s our little tagline for this one here. A community that disciples is a community that can say, I take you to one another.  

Number four. So, number four is this idea of intentionality. There has to be intentionality to push towards action. And I think discipleship, there is parts that just happen in the moments in the natural day of life. And we learn as we see others and just model ourselves after him. But there’s also parts that say, you know, I’m going to intentionally step into this space and be about this business of discipleship. 

There’s an action that can be taken. Yes, there is. Which is what we do see in Paul, right? Follow me, he says, because I’m following Christ. Paul was never the standard. The standard was Christ. The end was Christ, but he was an example to that end. Yeah, discipleship is not a haphazard activity. Discipleship is something that says we walk into this with a purposeful way. 

I think, kind of like Russian nesting dolls is a little bit of what these are. These are kind of unfolding where we have a location where we say, here am I. And then we have commitment that says, I am here. Then we have vulnerability and says, I take you. Now we have this concept of intentionality. 

Follow me as I follow Christ. And that leads us now to the fifth one. I think the fifth one, the last one, maybe today is just this idea that there’s patience involved. We walk patiently with this. This is not something that happens quickly, this is something that takes time. This is a lifetime activity that we engage in and that we are engaged in with those around us. With our patience, I think what the believer has that allows us to be patient is that hope, right? Yes, it absolutely has to have a hope. We have to have a hope grounded in the idea that this is possible. We have to believe that this is a possibility. That is, we strive by God’s grace and the Spirit’s work. 

We can become more and more like Christ and we can take steps. Sometimes it’s baby steps, but we can take steps in the right direction. We’re going to linger with people, we’re going to walk with them, um, as slowly as it takes sometimes, but we’re going to walk with them in the direction of Christlikeness. 

So, we have location that gives rise to stability, which gives rise to vulnerability, which gives rise to intentionality. Which then gives rise to this patience with hope. You know, one thing, Arlan, as we kind of bring this to a close, it always amazes me how much Jesus entrusts to us. You know, take the Scriptures, for example, written by man, inspired by God, but written by a man.  He entrusted the Word of God to human participation. And even in the growing of people and their transformation, he entrusts a lot to us to participate, doesn’t he? Yes, he does, which is just an amazing thing to consider that God would design his church to grow through the work of his but through the work of his spirit working itself out. 

You know what, one of the beautiful things, one of the opportunities that you and I have and others too, is we travel and just are able to engage with others across the land and within our church. We see these aspects. We see these being lived out. We see them being carried out. And I would say this is not a challenge to the church to, hey, you need to get your act together. 

No, this is an encouragement that says it’s right there. It’s attainable and it’s being lived out. And so, let’s live out the fullness of that promise. Let’s be that community that disciples each other and in the name of Christ draws ourselves closer into that image of Christ to be a testimony in glory to all those roundabout.  

After his directions, his final directions to the church to go make disciples of all nations. What a privilege and an opportunity. And speaking of opportunities, I would like to mention that late this summer, we hope to make live a course that has been created. It is entitled Spiritual Formation Abiding in Jesus Together. And it is intended to be a tool that really matches what we’ve talked about here in this podcast. 

And that is putting into the hands of the local church a tool that can facilitate discipleship groups getting together and growing in Jesus together. To our audience, I hope that you caught Arlan’s heart there and encouragement that so much good work is being done and is yet to be done and the foundation there for the discipling community is very present and very alive and what beautiful things God has in store for his church. 

Thanks for being on. 


Listen on Spotify   –    Listen on Apple Podcast

Further Information

Five Core Essentials for Discipleship in the Church
Spiritual growth should be an objective of the family of God. Furthermore, training and teaching will be necessary for youth to be brought into maturity. This article provides five core essentials for a local church that disciples its members.