‘Discipling’ is a strange word. Every time I jab the letters into my keyboard or phone it is autocorrected to discipline. It did it so often I began to wonder if I had misheard every leader and preacher I’ve come across.
When it comes to discipling others online and through social media we begin to realise how inept our models of transparency and (for want of a better phrase) accountability are. Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow us to project an image that is radically different from the truth. Discipleship becomes about saying the right things, quoting the favoured theologians, pointing to the appropriate comments, articles and newest songs.
Of course none of this is very different from our offline realities. We project, we quote, we hide…
There is a presumption people are more honest when they are offline.
The only disparity between offline and online discipleship is the level of willingness to acknowledge this ability to project our best and hide our worst.
The underlying principle of discipleship is a simple one: remind those who want to hear of the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Where does that leave us? I hope I can offer two suggests (one for the ‘discipler’ and one for the disciple):
1. Recognise we all wear masks. It’s not out role to get behind them to see what’s underneath. Our job is to provide a safe space where the masks can be removed by the wearer and then repeat the words spoken over Jesus ‘You are loved, you are beautiful, you are accepted’*
2. Acknowledge not everything you teach will hit home immediately. We may teach, but it is the Holy Spirit that decides what is actually taught.
We don’t need to press an argument or theology.., discipleship is about helping others become more like Christ.
and a bonus
3. Our example must ooze transparency