Every Christian is called to be a disciple. A disciple is simply a learner. Someone who is ever pursuing growth through learning and applying what is learned. Discipleship happens in a variety of formal and informal ways; Sunday sermons, small groups/fellowship, personal devotional times, and discipleship training classes.
What is it about?
Discipleship training in its broadest sense refers to the process of helping believers to become and live like Christ. The purpose of discipleship training is to “Attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13).
In other words, the purpose of discipleship training is maturity. The Bible speaks of different stages in spiritual life -- the infant stage and the mature stage. Infants can only take in milk but grown-ups can eat and digest solid food (Hebrews 5:12-14). Spiritually mature refers to those who can distinguish good from evil. We are called to rise above the elementary stage and move on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1-2). Furthermore, we are commanded to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). One who is mature is compared to a tree in Colossians 2:7—“Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
The purpose of discipleship training covers a broad range of goals, from learning how to mature as a believer to being equipped to lead others in the Body of Christ.
Why Discipleship Training?
The foundation of discipleship training is Matthew 28:18-20. “Then Jesus came to them and said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The one who commanded to make disciples is Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth. We are commanded to make disciples of all nations. Someone who wants to become a disciple must believe and be baptized. Therefore discipleship training must be carried out by the church.
The content of discipleship training is based on the word of God, the Bible. The method of training is not simply teaching the contents of the Bible but also enabling the trainees to apply what they have learned into practice. Jesus focused on training a handful of disciples. Our discipleship classes are designed to provide meaningful interaction between members. We seek to maintain strict confidentiality within the groups so the participants can trust the others with personal experiences.
For many centuries, the Great Commission has not been fully understood by the church. At most, it was used to promote evangelism. But many young people in various mission organizations and para-church ministries began to challenge the traditional understanding of the Great Commission and explore discipleship training to gain a better understanding. The result has been enormous. Now the task remains for the local church to implement discipleship training. We are merely at the beginning stage.
The reason why AIM is insisting on the vision of discipleship training is primarily for two reasons. First, the church must equip and generate disciples of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). Second, the church cannot effectively proclaim the gospel and win the world without sending out properly equipped and trained disciples of Christ. It is our prayer that there will be a day when all nations will be overflowing with disciples of Christ. What is impossible with man is possible with God, and Christ will be glorified and honored throughout all nations.