Of course we all want every new believer to enroll in discipleship, but we also want to make sure they are committed to it. When a person who is not committed enrolls, it can cause the discipler to feel frustrated that he is being paired up with someone who does not want to put in the necessary work to finish what he started.
At Lancaster Baptist Church, we have a discipleship program that meets every Thursday night. It is exciting to see two full classrooms every week with people who want to know more about God and His Word. While there will always be some attrition in any discipleship program, we have found that one of the keys to getting people to continue all the way through discipleship and become faithful to church after they graduate is enrolling people who truly desire to grow in the Lord.
Here are a few ideas to help you determine someone’s commitment level to discipleship:
Are they faithful? If they are not faithful to services on Sunday, they probably will not be faithful to discipleship.
Are they growing? The key here is appetite. We do not expect new Christians to mature overnight, but they should have an appetite for the things of God and a desire to grow in Christ.
Are they applying what they are learning in church and living it? If they are not doing that, it is likely they will not invest the effort that discipleship requires.
Effort and Commitment
When you approach them about discipleship, are they ready to commit to the weekly meeting time and the work that will be required, or do they seem hesitant?
When in doubt, it is sometimes helpful to have them work through the First Steps for New Christians booklet first. This is a short, thirteen chapter booklet that allows them to look up verses, fill in blanks, and work through some basic doctrines. If they finish this resource in a few weeks, then it is a good indicator they are ready for your discipleship program.
Remember that even those who jump into discipleship with both feet may still need encouragement and gentle prods along the way. Discipleship is engaging in intense spiritual warfare for the life of a young Christian, but the rewards are certainly worth it!