Key principle #4 for moving discipleship from great to good: Plan a comprehensive, ever-expanding syllabus approach to making disciples.
A good discipleship program consists of the things a person needs to learn or know to be more Christ-like. The curriculum generally is sufficient for a number of months, a year, or more. Through detailed planning, leadership will equip followers to have the requisite knowledge for whatever may come their way. Once the prescribed curriculum is studied and possibly even mastered, it will be time to move on to the most recent iteration of curriculum and syllabus.
Graduation is possible and will happen in the realm of good when the need for another discipler becomes more urgent than the need for the individual to be discipled. At times this will mean that a dynamic disciple is developing other disciples. At other times someone who has experienced little transformation and possesses little passion will be responsible for helping others grow in the image of Christ. This is not cause for significant concern, however, as the prescribed curriculum is good and sufficient to offset the deficiencies of a non-transformed disciple-maker.
In the pursuit of great discipleship, Jesus was about showing the Father to the disciples and training them to obey. He prayed with and for his disciples in John 17: “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world….they have obeyed your word.” How did he get to this point of maturity with his disciples? He lived life with them. When his mom told him to go and take care of the shortage of wine problem, he obeyed (Jn 2). And he transformed water into the best wine in the ceremonial pots. He could have arranged to conduct a series of lessons with the disciples on: obeying the 10 commandments including command #5; the deity and humanity of the Messiah; and the role of religion in the community. He did, however, teach on these things. Actually he lived in such a way that these were addressed effectively. It was great–a great life, and great lessons.
With the Discipler removed, graduation was a bit of a necessity. But these followers knew the Savior who had consistently pointed them to the Father. They had the core curriculum mastered. Jesus prayed, “Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.” They did not have all of the information learned. But they knew where it came from. They had been promised the Holy Spirit that would continue to teach and convict them. It was time. Time for the Discipler to continue a life of submissive obedience that consistently impacted the lives of others. It was time for the disciples to start their journey at a new level of faith resulting in new expressions of obedience–resulting in new disciples. It was time for great discipleship to continue and impact more lives.
Less and More
It has often intrigued me that for collegiate studies a topic is taught for 16 weeks or for some 45 to 48 hours. Whether the topic is anthropology, astrophysics, computer science, or speech class it takes 16 weeks or 45 hours to cover. It seems to me that some courses may possibly do better with 2 weeks of instruction and others at 22 weeks. Systems dictate that what can be learned through a university program will take 16 weeks even if it is 11 weeks of content. This brings order to the system and a clearly defined point for graduation. This is good enough for many things in life.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)