How soon is too soon to begin discipling other believers?
Most of us think we’re not ready. We need to grow a little more before investing in others. We can think of a million reasons why we’re not ready yet to invest in helping other people to grow.
The truth is: you’re ready. You only need to be one step ahead to help disciple others.
It is possible to begin too soon. The first step in Christian growth is to be discipled yourself. Join a church that preaches the Bible, points to Jesus, and gives you opportunities to build relationships. Find someone who is ahead of you and learn from them.
In his classic book The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman writes:
This means that some system must be found whereby every convert is given a Christian friend to follow until such time as he or she can lead another. The counselor should stay with the new believer as much as possible, studying the Bible and praying with him or her, all the while answering questions, clarifying the truth, and seeking together to help others. If a church does not have such committed counselors willing to do this service, then it should be training some. And the only way they can be trained is by giving them a leader to follow.
We learn best by following examples, so find a good example to follow. Start to develop the key practices that lead to growth: read or listen to the Bible. Learn how to pray by praying. Just start. Get involved with worship and community within a church. We’re not really ready to help others grow until we’re practicing the basics.
When you start growing, you can pass on what you’re learning to others. Take an interest in others who are just getting started and invest in them. We learn best by teaching others, so leading someone else is a great way to grow.
How do you invest in others? One great way is to invite them into relationship with the person who is investing in you. Get together for coffee or meals and talk about what you’re learning and where you’re struggling. Study the Bible. Pray together. Talk about your struggles and dreams. Open up your life to others and look for opportunities to encourage them. Pay attention to what you sense God is doing in their lives.
If you can’t invite others into relationship with your leader, then copy what you’ve learned from that person as you invest in others. If you get stuck, admit that you don’t know what to say and get advice from someone farther along than you.
If you are growing, you’re reading to invest in others, even if you’re relatively new in the journey.
Keep Growing, Keep Investing
So keep growing. And as you grow, consider investing in others as part of your growth. We learn not just by following Jesus alone, but by following those who are farther along in their journey with Jesus, and by inviting others to follow him.
It’s probably not too soon for you to help others to grow.