Throughout the Gospels we see the importance of discipleship. Jesus discipled people. Paul discipled people. We all should be discipling people.
Unfortunately with the constraints of time, discipleship often takes the back burner to the overwhelming administration aspects of our ministries. So how can we as leaders keep our tight schedules from preventing discipleship?
How can we help build up the people in our groups when we don’t have the time or resources to spend one-on-one time with everyone?
A group of young leaders of which I’m a part found ourselves asking these same questions, and here are some of the ideas that we came up:
Plan activity nights
We have started to plan activity nights that fall outside of our regular meeting times. Not only does this open up the door for people to bring friends out to a non-church setting, but it also allows the people within your group to connect deeper with one another. It’s also a good opportunity for leaders to spend time getting to really know those who attend their group, which often doesn’t happen in a Bible study setting.
Put it on the calendar
“Free time” doesn’t exist. If you plan to meet with people when you have “free time,” you’ll never meet with them. Block out a certain amount of time each week for people. Once you’ve budgeted a certain quantity of time for discipleship, you’re more likely to keep it. You may want to schedule one hour each week to have coffee with a different member of your group.
Keep it simple
Discipleship is not a rigid process. The importance is in the quality of the time you spend with someone—not the time and place. Don’t over-think it. Since you need to eat lunch every day, have lunch with someone whom you’re discipling. Have someone over for dinner. Hang out on a Friday night. While the time needs to be quality and in an environment where you can connect, discipleship can be worked into your daily schedule.
Use technology to your advantage
While our group sends off an email once a week to those who attend to let them know what’s happening, email can also create an avenue for discipleship. We may not all have the time to pick up the phone and spend a half hour talking with someone, but most of us can fire off an email to check up on someone. Not only does email take less time, but it’s also less awkward than an out-of-the-blue phone call.
Make yourself available
Ultimately discipleship comes down to making yourself available. You may not have five hours a week to spend training up other believers, but if you use the time that you do have, God will honor it, and you will see results.