There are many people who identify themselves as Christians that aren’t necessarily disciples. It is my observation that many drop out of church not because they aren't acquainted with church life, for certainly many have grown up in church or have an understanding of church; but it’s that they haven’t been shown the ways to authentically live out their faith. There hasn’t been that exemplary role model who not only taught them the ways of the faith but modelled to them the ways of the faith. Discipleship and mentoring are the ways of the kingdom. You can’t be a Christian and not be a disciple. A disciple is a learner, one who learns, but more importantly, lives out the ways of Christ.
There’s something significant, empowering, and transformational about the Hebrew concept of discipleship and mentoring. In Hebrew faith and culture from where the Christian faith finds its roots, discipleship and mentoring is a lifestyle; it is embedded in the culture. It is not just a good suggestion, or an optional tool to spiritual formation. It is what sustains and cements one’s spiritual development. The primary approach and message of Hebraic mentoring and discipleship is this: The Rabbi, or the Teacher, educates and imparts the ways of the Jewish faith, not just in teachings, but in actually modelling in all aspects of life, for God is involved in all areas of life (and how far have we have departed from this). In other words, the Rabbi teachers, informs, educates, guides, mentors BY EXAMPLE, in attitude, speech, and conduct. It’s transformation, impartational leadership by example for the whole person. The mentoree/disciple is typically mentored from youth, is “hand-held” and shown the ways of Yahweh, and then empowered to duplicate the same process with someone else. The Rabbi’s pedagogical motto is this: “Whatever I do, you can do also.” It is no wonder that Jesus would say to the disciples, “The works that I do, you will do also” (John 14:12). He’s the Great Rabbi and He models everything He is teaching the disciples.
It is evident that in the Body of Christ, we lack role models, the leaders who will lead by example, who won’t just tell you what to do, but will show you how to do it. That’s the way of the kingdom. That’s the essence of kingdom transformation. We need a revival of godly discipleship and mentoring. Teaching by information (i.e. going to church, hearing a sermon…) plainly put, isn’t going to cut it. That alone isn’t going to sustain one’s faith for the long haul. I believe that’s one of the primary and critical reasons why people drop out of church. On the other hand, if a believer is given the opportunities to learn, dialogue, interact, ask hard questions, taught how to navigate through life and spiritual formation, shown how the ways of the kingdom work, he/she is more likely to thrive. Unless we reorientate the ways in which we lead in the church, I am afraid we will remain a shallow, superficial church, never short of teachings and activities, but always found wanting in godly transformational leadership.
May the Lord give us grace and raise up godly mentors and disciplers! Release more spiritual fathers, and mothers in the faith!