What does discipleship mean? Is discipleship merely a weekly Bible study with the new believer? Is it daily texts to check in on them?
Discipleship can take a lot of different forms, but it always involves teaching and encouraging new believers. Discipling new believers is vital for the Church’s growth and development, but it is often forgotten or pushed to the side.
“Disciple” comes from the Latin word “discipulus”, which means learner or student. Jesus was called “Rabbi”, which was a title for a Jewish teacher. His disciples were the people who followed Him and studied His teachings, which was a common thing for Rabbis. Jesus commanded His followers to be disciple-makers before He ascended to heaven in Matthew 28:19-20 NASB:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…”
Part of Call of Love’s mission is to invest in new believers with Islamic backgrounds and make them disciples of Jesus. We do this through our TV station's contact center, which receives 30-40 messages a day!
How our contact center disciples new believers
After the Muslim confesses Jesus as Lord, whether by phone or through chatting with our team, we start the discipleship journey with them.
- Read the Bible- We walk the new believer through the Gospel of Luke, because they do not know the Christmas story or the true character of Jesus. We digitally share the chapters, sometimes daily, to read and go through them together. They ask many questions to understand what they are reading; often they are amazed by the stories of Jesus’s life, His miracles, and teachings.
- Teach them about salvation- As a new believer, and with their Islamic background, they are unfamiliar with the idea of promised salvation. We explain in detail what happens now that they have accepted the Lord and how their faith will change their life; we also assure them that they will never lose their salvation.
- Prayer- We teach them how to pray and make sure they understand that prayer is a conversation with God! In Islam, they were taught to pray by reciting Quranic passages 5 times a day; they are not familiar with a God who wants to talk to them. We encourage them to expect God to respond, and rejoice with them as they share answered prayers.
- Connect - We let them know how important it is to be surrounded by other believers in order to grow. We introduce them to our online Arabic church services and to the body of Christ, and after a few weeks we introduce them to a spiritual mentor who is committed to connect with them every week to provide additional discipleship and walk the faith journey with them.
We have been blessed to see many of these precious disciples become disciple-makers themselves through witnessing to people around them, most often their spouses, parents, siblings, or children. All this is done mostly in closed Islamic countries!
How YOU can disciple new believers
First, you need to find out where to begin. Listen to your friend's spiritual journey to learn if they have taken the step and accepted salvation by grace through Jesus Chirst. It is always good to affirm what salvation is according to the Word of God and ask your friend to pray with you confessing their sins and wilfully deciding to follow Jesus! Drawing from our steps above, here is how you can disciple the new believer in your life:
- Start with the basics- To begin reading the Bible together, you’ll need to determine where the best starting point is, depending on their background knowledge of Jesus. We recommend starting with the Gospel of Luke or Matthew because they both start with the Christmas story.
- Dive into the Bible together- Whether you read together or separately, you need to come together and talk about what you read. Ask them what they think about the passage. Share your own thoughts, and encourage them to ask questions. They might hold back questions to save face, so make sure they know that no question is a stupid question!
- Pray together- The best way to teach them that prayer is a conversation with God is by setting an example. You can invite them to pray along with you, pray out loud or to yourselves, or even journal their prayers. We encourage showing them verses about prayer, such as Philippians 4:6 or 1 John 5:14.
- Invite them to Church or Bible study- Introducing them to a group of believers that they can connect with is so helpful in a new believer’s journey. Jesus wanted His followers to be one body.
- Invest- Don’t let discipling a new believer fall onto the back burner. Truly invest in them and love them well. Set up a schedule to get together, and then stick to it for at least 6 months.