you can disciple others
by Russell Cooper
Find out more about Free Will Baptist Bible College at www.fwbbc.edu.
I don’t remember the events leading up to this verbal exchange, but the conversation will be a marker in my life. It was in the evening. I was sitting on a bench outside Johnson Classroom Building at Free Will Baptist Bible College with a good friend, a fellow member of the New Mercy Ministry Team. We talked of our upcoming opportunity to represent FWBBC and minister in Free Will Baptist churches across the denomination, and how unprepared we felt.
Of course, we had dedicated countless hours to music rehearsals, but there was another element lacking in our team. We lacked spiritual fortitude. How could we feed the people God called us to minister to when we were starving ourselves? We couldn’t. Something had to change. And it did in a dramatic way.
Our team met for a four-day training session at FWBBC in early June before we left on a seven-week tour. We sat down as a team and discussed what I thought were pressing needs to revitalize our individual walks with the Lord. Not only did everyone agree, they were all excited. And there it began.
We decided that every morning on tour, we would spend 30 minutes to an hour in the Word. After that, we would spend time in prayer asking God to use us and lead us by His Spirit. We also memorized one or two verses of Scripture every day as a team. Doing that for seven weeks allowed us to plant several passages in our hearts. In an effort to help us commit the Scripture to memory, we recited and quoted it three or four times a day.
We learned an unforgettable lesson—the combination of a submissive child of God and the power of the Word of God planted deep in his heart is a powerful thing.
Discipleship Begins Here
Discipleship begins by submitting yourself to the leading of the Holy Spirit through reading the Word, hiding it in your heart, and prayer. Out of that come the encouraging, the edifying, and even the rebuking of fellow believers around you.
Jesus said in Mathew 12:34b-35, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored in him.”
This has been my experience. When I have been consistently feeding myself from the Word of God and prayer, I naturally feed others. It just happens that way. The more you know and understand Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing, the more you can’t help but share His goodness.
Discipleship Means Seizing Opportunity
The best part of my job happens when a student unexpectedly walks in my office looking for a listening ear. In a culture where you can text, chat online, and have a conversation with the person next to you all at the same time, a listening ear is hard to find.
Although my first reaction might be frustration at the interruption, it often proves to be a divine appointment to disciple. Opportunities such as this are great times to offer encouragement by sharing a verse of Scripture or taking time to pray with someone. They can be easily missed. But as a child of God looking to disciple my brothers and sisters, these are so important.
Discipleship Should Be Intentional
At the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year, Barry Raper, coordinator of the Christian Education and Youth Ministry program, approached me with a plan for discipleship. He wanted each of us to find a student in whom we would invest extra time and invite them to study Scripture with us every week. That’s what we did.
Every Friday the four of us met, read a passage from the book we were studying, talked about what it meant, and discussed how our lives could better reflect God’s character. I’ll never forget the morning when one of the young men said, “My time at FWBBC has made me different.”
Those are moments you live for—when God allows you to see fruit for your labor.
This summer, my wife, Bethany, and I traveled with the Rejoice Ministry Team for a couple of weeks. Bethany and I spent time loving the students. We listened to them and got to know them; each one had a different story. But each one was a testimony of God’s faithfulness to love us and forgive us.
I wanted to make the most of this opportunity to invest in such special children of God. So we spent time memorizing a passage from the book of James. As we memorized, we talked about what it meant and discussed whether or not our lives truly reflected what God was calling us to be. Some of them had never spent time memorizing and meditating on Scripture. It was a learning experience but a good experience.
Discipleship Isn’t Complicated
Don’t over-think discipleship. It’s not a workbook or a college class. Discipleship is teaching others what God has taught you. You don’t have to be a pastor or a deacon. You don’t have to be a good speaker or have counseling experience. You need to allow yourself to be used by God.
Here are some practical steps to get started:
Spend time in Bible study, Scripture memory, and prayer. If you’re not feeding yourself, you can’t feed others. If you’ve never learned how to do these things on your own, ask your pastor or some other mature Christian in your church to help you. Meet with them briefly each week so they can disciple you.
As you start devoting time to your relationship with God, you’ll find it easier and more natural to share what you’re learning with other believers. Pray that God would give you opportunities.
Ask one or two younger believers in your church if they would like to meet once a week or twice a month for coffee and Bible study. Get to know them. Encourage them and teach them how to walk with God.
About the Writer: Russell Cooper, director of institutional advancement at Free Will Baptist Bible College, serves as music worship leader at Cofer’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about the college at www.fwbbc.edu.