New School vs. Old School Discipleship

By Doug Franklin January 4, 2017

2403892081_a2d27d50fe_oEveryone likes the feel of new school discipleship.

We go to a great, high-energy Christian conference with awesome group worship, listen to a speaker connect to our hearts for 20 minutes, and pull the loose change from our pockets to support the battle against some form of  injustice happening thousands of miles away. Students come back from the conference, raving about how “awesome” it was. Numbers are high, and all seems good—until we realize our community is a mile wide and only an inch deep.

The trouble with new school discipleship is that it’s based on emotions. We feel connected to God through overwhelming worship. But when life becomes difficult, our good feelings fade, and we realize that we don’t actually know the God we felt so close to.

Traditional discipleship, while it may feel rather old school, is the only path to greater depth for us and for our students.

Meeting face-to-face, talking repeatedly about a sin that we can’t shake, forgiving others, giving sacrificially, being held accountable for our actions—these things are far from trendy. And they will certainly take more time than we have to offer. It’s no secret that youth workers, volunteers, and students are all busy, but no app or new trend is a substitute for iron sharpening iron.

 It’s no secret that youth workers, volunteers, and students are all busy, but no app or new trend is a substitute for iron sharpening iron.

Old school discipleship requires mature believers willing to share their lives with immature believers. We have to get to know people and build trust in order to challenge each other. Just about anyone can read a bullet-point list of questions to a group of students, but real discipleship happens when leaders challenge students to go deeper and both experience and extend God’s grace.

This year will you sacrifice the energy to train mature disciple-making disciples? Can you give up the time you’ve learned to save? Can you sacrifice the high numbers and invest in a small group of disciples who will last? Revive old school discipleship, and you and your students will rediscover something deeper that will persevere through good times and bad.

CC Image courtesy of Mike Licht on Flickr.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More