DISCIPLESHIP FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH
Another related function of the church is discipleship.
Once we have seen a friend or loved one come to Christ we have a responsibility to see that they grow in the Lord. In some cultures, if a person saves another’s life, that person becomes responsible for the one saved. This is a good concept for the Christian. If we lead someone else into new life in Christ, we are responsible to see that that person learns what the Bible teaches about the Christian life.
The Bible is so important to Christian growth that many Christians want to immediately give a Bible to anyone they may lead to the Lord. In some countries, like China or North Korea, faithful Christians have carried on for years without Bibles, but it was very difficult. They had to depend on Scripture verses that one of their members memorized at some earlier time, or perhaps heard on a Christian radio broadcast. The almost desperate hunger for the Bible among Christians who have been cut off from it for an extended period dramatically illustrates just how important the Bible is to the Christian life.
If formal training centers have been closed, it is especially imperative that local churches take very seriously their responsibilities to teach (II Timothy 2:2). This teaching may have to be done on a one-on-one basis whenever a mature Christian and a young Christian can get together.
There are many examples in the Bible of leaders being trained in this way. Besides the clear example of Christ teaching His disciples, we see Barnabas teaching Mark (Acts 12:25; 15:39), Priscilla and Aquila helping Apollos (Acts 18:24-26) and Paul training Timothy (Acts 16:1-3). Paul provides the most detailed approach to discipling a young believer. He taught first by example (I Corinthians 4:16), then he openly gave himself to his disciples, living with them and sharing all he had (Acts 20:34). His relationship with them was not just “student/ teacher.” Rather, he became very personally involved with them (I Timothy 1:1-2). He gave them responsibilities while they were still in training, and kept in close touch with them even after they had become leaders themselves (I & II Timothy and Titus). In a prison in Sudan, a pastor quietly discipled a young believer from a Muslim background as they were forced to work together. After his release, the young Christian became a dynamic witness for Christ.
Discipleship is another function of the church and is crucial in the life of a follower of Jesus.
Pray for those in difficult circumstances—such as prison—trying to disciple new believers.