Discipleship simply means training and coaching believers to be like Jesus Christ. After a person believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is very essential for the Church to train and coach the believer to be like Christ since the entire gospel is about modelling Christ in all fields of endeavours.
The term "disciple" represents the Koine Greek word mathetes, which generally means "one who engages in learning through instruction from another, pupil, apprentice." To become a disciple, therefore, means to become a life-long learner, a student of Jesus Christ.
Discipleship is an integral part of the growth of the Christian today. It is the process of leading others by example to follow Jesus Christ through obedience to God’s word and the leading of His Holy Spirit.
The standard for following Jesus Christ is through discipleship. This is why after he arose from the dead, He told His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Just as a child grows up to reflect the values and characteristics of his parent, so the disciple should reflect the life of Christ as he follows the example of the person disciplining him. That is why the Apostle Paul could say with confidence in 1 Corinthians 11:1 ‘’Imitate me just as I imitate Christ.’’
The Apostle Paul encourages his protégé in the Kingdom, Timothy to instruct others and train them up for the ministry and so commit and ordain to them the things which he had heard.
‘’ And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.’’ 2 Timothy 2:2
The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought to bare some lapses in the Church which need to be taken very seriously. Many Church leaders are putting pressure on the government for the restrictions on social gatherings to be lifted so they can have worship in their church buildings because the ban on social gathering is affecting the spiritual lives of their congregants.
If Christians cannot survive on their own without physically being in church at such a crucial period of this pandemic, then there is a very big problem at hand. Does that mean that all along, the church only spoonfed their congregants without teaching them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Sadly, many churches have over the years focused much on their church doctrines and have built their congregations around the Church Leaders with less focus on discipleship. It, therefore, becomes a challenge for these congregants to have a personal relationship with Christ through personal prayers and reading the scriptures for themselves as they are used to only listening to messages from the pulpits by their church leaders. Others have focused on building magnificent church edifices and having several services as a way to measure their success in Ministry while ignoring the ultimate commission of raising people to be like Christ.
I believe this is a wake-up call for the body of Christ to prioritise discipleship because that is the surest way to ensure that Christians are well grounded in their spiritual lives in order to withstand hard and perilous times such as pandemics of this nature. Jesus Christ has already hinted of what is ahead in the coming years and the only way for Christians to exercise their faith in the midst of these happenings is by prioritizing discipleship.
The Writer is an ordained Minister of the Gospel, Journalist and Paralegal. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org