The word “discipleship” has a number of definitions and associations. But its closest cousin is a very important word in the Bible: disciple. If we remember that, we may avoid some of these problems.
Discipleship is not a program. When Peter and John were invited, no, summoned by Jesus to follow him as disciples, they were not recruited to subscribe to a program. They were called to live a whole new kind of life. The old life was left behind. The new life would be radically different.
Discipleship is not a class. Churches have often treated this subject almost like catechism. Now teaching the basics of the faith is important, but it is not discipleship. Because following Christ as a disciple includes not only what you learn, but how you behave. It is not just a mastery of facts and information, but it is being mastered by the Master.
Discipleship is not an option. It is not unusual in Sunday School to have electives. Discipleship is not one of these. One cannot say, “I would love to be a Christian, but I would rather not be a disciple.” A Christian is a believer who has been drawn into such a relationship with the Savior that he/she follows and learns, trusts and obeys as a disciple.
So what is Discipleship?
Discipleship is an involvement with Jesus along with other disciples of Jesus. It is not an individualistic exercise.
Discipleship is a commitment to other disciples of Jesus, encouraging them and holding them accountable in their walk with Christ.