Many people who identify themselves as Christians aren’t necessarily disciples. It is my observation that many drop out of church not because they aren’t acquainted with church life, for certainly many have grown up in church or have an understanding of it, but they haven’t been shown how to authentically live out their faith.
There hasn’t been that exemplary role model who not only taught them the ways of the faith but also modeled the ways of the faith to them.
Discipleship and mentoring are the ways of the kingdom. You can’t be a Christian and not be a disciple. A disciple is a learner, one who learns, but more importantly, lives out the ways of Christ.
There’s something significant, empowering and transformational about the Hebrew concept of discipleship and mentoring. In Hebrew faith and culture, where the Christian faith finds its roots, discipleship and mentoring is a lifestyle; it is embedded in the culture. It is not just a good suggestion or an optional tool to spiritual formation. It is what sustains and cements one’s spiritual development.
The primary approach and message of Hebraic mentoring and discipleship is this: The Rabbi, or the Teacher, educates and imparts the ways of the Jewish faith, not just in teachings, but in actually modeling in all aspects of life, for God is involved in all areas of life (How far have we have departed from this!).
In other words, the Rabbi teaches, informs, educates, guides and mentors by example in attitude, speech and conduct. It’s transformational, impartational leadership by example for the whole person.
The mentoree/disciple is typically mentored from youth, is “hand-held,” shown the ways of Yahweh and then empowered to duplicate the same process with someone else. The Rabbi’s pedagogical motto is this: “Whatever I do, you can do also.” It is no wonder Jesus would say to the disciples, “He who believes in Me will do the works that I do also” (John 14:12b). He’s the Great Rabbi and models everything He is teaching the disciples.
It is evident in the body of Christ that we lack role models, the leaders who will lead by example, who won’t just tell you what to do but will show you how to do it. That’s the way of the kingdom. That’s the essence of kingdom transformation.
We need a revival of godly discipleship and mentoring. Teaching by information (i.e. going to church, hearing a sermon …), plainly put, isn’t going to cut it. That alone isn’t going to sustain one’s faith for the long haul.
I believe that’s one of the primary and critical reasons people drop out of church. On the other hand, if believers are given opportunities to learn, dialogue, interact, ask hard questions, are taught how to navigate through life and spiritual formation and shown how the ways of the kingdom work, they are more likely to thrive. Unless we re-orient the ways we lead in the church, I am afraid we will remain a shallow, superficial church, never short of teachings and activities but always found wanting in godly transformational leadership.
May the Lord give us grace and raise up godly mentors and disciplers. God, release more spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith!