In 2007 I was fresh out of high school and new to the faith. An upperclassman football player at Centre College invited me to hang out and study the Bible and watch football. I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe I found some Christian friends with the first few weeks of college. I immediately said yes and got my copy of The Cross-Centered Life. I never could have imagined how that Bible study would shape my views on discipleship and the Christian life.
In early 2012, I stumbled upon a community group that was having meals together, walking through books of the Bible, and living their lives together. As a single, 23-year-old bachelor, I was always at John’s house sipping coffee, talking Scripture and theology, and watching him love and lead his family. One night, he handed the teaching portion of the group to me. It was a game-changer. From that night on, I had a hunger to teach God’s word that would eventually come to fruition in a call to preach.
Later that year, when moved away to Knoxville in 2012, I didn’t know anyone except my wife—we were engaged at the time, and she was in college. As I got intensely lonely and depression was starting to set in, a couple of guys from Legacy Church invited me to their community group. We’d grab a meal, spend some time discussing Scripture, and hang out for a few hours afterward. Those were some amazing times.
In 2016, shortly after I moved back to KY, two friends from high school invited me to Dairy Queen once a week to sip coffee and eat the 3 Buck Breakfast. We’d whip out our ESVs and talk about Scripture and life before heading off to work. Those conversations eventually led me to being called and affirmed as an elder.
The common denominator in each of these scenarios is time and proximity. If we want to be discipled and make disciples, we need to find Christians close to us and we need to spend time with them. As we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, we will need other believers to walk with us along the way.
Your local church—and your extended network of believers—are here to help you persevere and to build you up as you walk with God and do the work of the ministry. But what does this actually look like in real life?
I could share hundreds of examples of how God has used the lives of other believers to shape me. We are called to bear one another’s burdens while also carrying our own load. It’s not a contradiction because we work out our salvation by loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
God is working in us to will and work for His good pleasure, so we can rest assured that discipling others is pleasing to Him and helpful for them. As is commanded in the Great Commission, we don’t just evangelize, we make disciples. This is a picture of the Christian life that I can see and rejoice in.