I recently finished 4 Chair Discipleship: What Jesus Calls Us to Do by Dann Spader (Moody Press, 2014). Spader writes about the way Jesus discipled and learns from his method. Spader spends time looking at each stage of discipleship from non-believer through the multiplier stage, what he calls the “disciple-making disciple.” And he explores how to move from one chair to the next.
Near the end of the book, Spader lists three reminders that those who seek to disciple others should keep in mind. These reminders are particularly important for parents as well as those who work with kids and students.
First, each person you disciple is at a different stage of the process. Next generation disciplers should always be encouraging the kids and students in their care to take next steps in their growth. As parents or children’s ministry workers we need to understand the difference between childish immaturity and perpetual immaturity. Understanding this well means having maturity ourselves. Spader writes, “Maturity means we understand the development process and work with people based on their stage of life and always give them plenty of grace for that stage” (128).
Secondly, at every stage of a person’s journey, we need the Holy Spirit. On this point Spader writes, “As spiritual parents we know better than anyone that ‘apart from Christ we can do nothing’ but ‘in Christ all things are possible’” (129). Only God’s Spirit can change and transform someone’s heart. It’s our job to be faithful with the message and let him do his work.
Finally, our goal in the journey is holiness. Here, Spader says, “We cannot be holy apart from His constant cleansing. And holiness is God’s agenda for each of us, for as we mature we move from grace to grace and become more like Him” (130). Striving for holiness means that we live our lives confessing every known sin to those we are seeking to disciple. We lead by example, modeling what repentance and forgiveness looks like in real life. And this is particularly true when we’ve sinned against them.
Overall, I really loved Spader’s book. It’s great for any believer who is seeking to be faithful as a disciple-maker. Pick it up to be challenged and encouraged in your own discipleship journey.