The One Thing We All Need in Order to Learn to Follow Jesus

I’ve written before that church will be perpetually frustrating unless you make the shift from thinking selfishly to thinking selflessly. Every growing disciple will eventually make the shift from being selfish to selfless.



I have to admit, it’s not very helpful to just identify the problem. It’s only fair to offer some help for arriving at a better future. If this shift has to take place then the question becomes how?

One of the best books on discipleship I’ve read is Mike Breen’s book, Building a Discipling Culture. In the book, he mentions three ways that people learn…

1. Classroom/Lecture

This is exactly what it sounds like. We all learn by having concepts passed on to us. For many churches, this is where the vast majority of the focus is: worship gatherings, classes, special events, etc.

Teaching God’s word publicly is hugely important. I spend a significant amount of time preparing to teach each week. But, this is only one of the major ways people learn.

2. Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is the process of working with someone as they teach you to do something. This is common in most skilled labor trades. For instance, you can’t become a plumber without apprenticing with a plumber.

This is important because there are some things you can’t learn to do by reading a book or listening to a lecture. No one can escape this. And, this is where it gets interesting.

There are some things we all need someone else to show us how to do. Making disciples is one of those things.

3. Immersion

Think about learning to speak a language. You would learn the language in a book or a classroom. Then, you would probably get a tutor (apprenticeship). But, you wouldn’t be able to speak fluently until you were immersed in a culture that speaks that language.

Why do I mention these three types of learning?

Again, the vast majority of churches focus on classroom/lecture learning. But, it’s the combination of apprenticeship and immersion that are so critical for learning to follow Jesus. Here’s the point…

People learn to follow Jesus by closely watching other people as they follow Jesus.

So, here’s the one thing we all need in order to learn to follow Jesus…

We all need to have a close relationship with someone who can teach us to be followers — and make other followers — of Jesus.

Dallas Willard said it well…

“One thing is sure: You are somebody’s disciple. You learned how to live from somebody else. There are no exceptions to this rule, for human beings are just the kind of creatures that have to learn and keep learning from others how to live.” — Dallas Willard

Reflect on the relationships you have that have helped shape you into the person you are now. What kind of relationship do/did you have with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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