I used to date Jesus every Wednesday. I’d get dressed up and take my Bible to a coffee house to spend time with the Lord.
My journey to know Jesus brought me to the book of John. If you want to know Jesus, you’ll find His heart by searching through John.
For almost a year, I plugged away in study.
My times with the Lord were precious as I enjoyed hearing from Jesus.
Then I told my friend Jane how I was dating Jesus. She was curious and wanted to know more.
I told her how I prayed and journaled, writing down insights I had learned and wanted to apply.
Jane surprised me when she asked to join me.
At first, I was taken aback. Those dates were my special time with Jesus. Certainly, she could find another coffee shop.
Also, I was afraid. I had never discipled anyone. What would we do?
I asked God for wisdom, and He gave me peace about double-dating Jesus with my friend.
Jesus is enough for both of us.
Instead of creating new methods, we followed the same practices I had established on my own.
Here are three elements we used to make the time more than idle chatter, but mighty in the Lord. These simple steps allowed us to engage in truly effective discipleship.
3 Practices for Effective Discipleship
1 – Prayer
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:9–10 KJV
We prayed before we talked or read the Bible and closed our time together in prayer.
Like the Apostle Paul, we asked to grow in the wisdom of God’s will for our lives so we could walk worthy of the Lord.
We didn’t want to waste our sessions, so we asked the Holy Spirit to inhabit our conversations with His power and insights.
2 – Authentic Fellowship
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” – Acts 2:42 KJV
We also shared our lives with one another.
Though I was the mentor, I revealed my highs and lows.
I modeled the authenticity I wanted her to display.
Although we knew each other beforehand, we deepened our relationship over time.
We didn’t share our deepest secrets during our first meeting.
I started with two of my struggles—eating enough vegetables and flossing.
Instead of assuming we had all the answers, we scoured Scripture to uncover answers to our questions.
In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we read that Jesus bought our bodies with His blood. Therefore, I needed to care for my body by eating good food and cleaning my teeth.
3 – Inductive Bible study
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” – 2 Timothy 3:16–17 KJV
When I abide in a Bible passage, I beseech the Holy Spirit for wisdom before reading.
I don’t want to take anything outside of its original context or twist verses to justify sin.
Sincere prayer before Scripture reading attunes our hearts to the Savior’s voice.
We used the inductive Bible study method that asks three critical questions of the text:
Question: 1 – What does it say?
We read through the passage in two different Bible versions.
I prefer a word-for-word translation like the NKJV and a thought-for-thought version like the 1984 NIV.
I also enjoy the Amplified version because it pulls the meanings out of the original Hebrew and Greek.
Reading the Bible in different versions provides unique insights into what is happening that we may miss if we read one translation or rush through the words.
Our first step is to observe what’s happening in the text.
In the narrative parts of the Bible, we asked five questions: who, what, where, when, and why?
These questions uncover the primary characters and actions in the chapter.
Question 2: What does it mean?
Next, we discuss the meaning of the passage.
We pray for discernment to gain wisdom from the Word.
We can’t find spiritual truths without God giving us spiritual eyes and hearts to perceive them.
God didn’t have the writers of the Bible randomly record the Scriptures.
The Holy Spirit has timeless truths He wants to reveal to His people through God’s Word.
Our job is to look for them.
Question 3: How does it apply?
Applying God’s Word is a critical element of Bible study.
If we only read the Bible without acting on it, we might deceive ourselves.
We may think we are living the Christian life, but we are actually just going through the motions.
Obedience demonstrates our faith when we act on the Word of God.
The Simplicity of Effective Discipleship
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” – James 1:22 KJV
While prayer, authenticity, and Bible study aren’t the only elements in an effective discipleship relationship, without them, we may miss key areas for Christian growth.
Let’s not shy away from discipling someone else because we feel inadequate or ill-equipped.
This method requires no formal seminary education or investment of money.
And buying coffee isn’t a requirement.
Discipleship can happen at a public park or in a living room for free. Just BYOB–Bring Your Own Bible.
May we obey the Great Commission to make disciples without hesitation, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us through God’s Word, and apply it to our lives.
If you’d like to begin double-dating Jesus with a friend but don’t know where to start, you are invited to join us for the Journey to Humility Bible study.
This free online Bible study details the people, places, and predicaments that shaped the Apostle Paul’s ministry.
Sign up for our free study of the Apostle Paul’s life, and send your friend a heartfelt, personal invitation to join you.
Then, commit to connecting with them on a weekly basis throughout the thirty-day study (in person or by phone/video chat).
This step of faith will stretch you in uncomfortable ways, but effective discipleship is worth the sacrifice.
Joanna Eccles founded Words from the Honeycomb to share sweet words to encourage people in Christ. She has led Bible studies for over a decade and desires to shape culture through her writing by addressing truths in relatable ways. Joanna can’t wake up without a cup of coffee, loves reading, and lives in Florida. Connect with Joanna on Facebook and Twitter.