A few years ago, I gave a seminar in Thailand about making disciples through cell church ministry. About halfway through the seminar, one participant asked the simple question, “Joel, what is a disciple?” Please define it. I was surprised by his question because after all, had I not been talking about making disciples for the last several hours?
The reality is that I had neglected to clearly define the term. So what is a disciple? Let me allow Scripture to define discipleship:
- Paul: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29).
- John: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).
- Paul: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
True discipleship is the process of becoming like Jesus and reflecting his image. The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch because they reflected Christ and acted like Jesus (Acts 11:26).
The cell church facilitates the process of helping believers become like Jesus through the cell, celebration, equipping, and coaching. Yet, only the Spirit of God can make a person like Jesus. Thus, becoming like Jesus involves spending time with him individually and with others. In other words, the Spirit of God uses the spiritual disciplines to make believers more like him.
I believe that spending daily time with Jesus is the best way to bring us into the presence of Jesus so that His Spirit might transform us (Matthew 6:5-6). As we spend daily time in His presence, we become like our Master and take on his values. He shows us through His Word how to live and what to value. Yet, Paul also tells us to pray without ceasing throughout the day (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18).
But let’s not forget about corporate prayer. Jesus tells us that when two or three are gathered in his name, he’s in the midst (Matthew 18:20). Fervent churchwide prayer was a key characteristic of all fruitful cell churches. The ultimate goal of all prayer is to make us more like our creator.
For the month of October, we’ll look at how corporate and individual prayer leads God’s people to become more like Jesus. Experienced pastors and leaders will blog about themes related to both individual and corporate prayer in the process of becoming disciples of Jesus. If you’d like to receive these blogs in your email, press here. We’ll cover:
- October 03-09: Biblical base for how prayer makes us more like Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us that we are being transformed into Christ’s image as we look heavenward. Most authors on prayer acknowledge that God uses prayer to change us more than what we ask for.
- October 10-16: Individual and corporate prayer are both important. Jesus talks about when two or three gathered in his name, he is in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). But Jesus also spent a lot of time alone with the Father (Luke 9:18). In Matthew 6, we are told to enter our closets and pray to our Father who sees in secret (Matthew 6:5).
- October 17-23: Personal prayer focus. The discipline of personal quiet time is essential. Personal devotions include daily Bible reading, worship, meditation, intercession, and so forth.
- October 24-30: Church-wide prayer. Paul tells us in Colossians 4:2-4 to dedicate ourselves to prayer. He’s talking to the Colossian church. Effective cell churches are praying churches.
October 31 to November 06: Prayer shield. Paul was constantly asking people to pray for him (e.g., Colossians 4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; Romans 15:30; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Philippians 1:19; Philemon 22). Peter Wagner’s Prayer Shield explains the importance of gathering intercessors to form part of your prayer shield.