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Discipleship Is Lifelong Learning

by Bill Mellinger

When I went to college, I remember thinking that I wanted to be a lifelong learner. Now I see how lifelong learning is also helpful for my health and my memory. The funny thing is that if I am going to live into my mid-eighties or longer, I have many years ahead of me. In fact, I still have a third of my life ahead of me. Wow! I have a lot more to learn and a lot more to do for the Lord.

I prefer the simple definition that a disciple is a learner. I want to learn how to become more like Jesus every day until I see Jesus face to face. I participate regularly in a cell, with people from our church and neighborhood because I want to keep growing and learning.

When we started our groups, we had every member go through Joel Comiskey’s Equipping Series. The training track occurred before the regular meeting. People were asked to go through the material before the meeting so that discussion was focused on their personal responses. We found that even the mature believers valued these sessions. While much of Comiskey’s Equipping is focused on foundational lessons, we must never should forget that the basics are important! Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi once held up a football to champion Green Bay Packers and said, “Gentleman, this is a football.” His gesture was a reminder to never forget the basics. We learn and then we must “relearn.”

More recently in my lifelong learning quest, I’ve been encouraged by Jim Putnam’s book, Real Life Discipleship. Putnam writes, “Discipleship demands intentionality and relationship—by which each person is invested in specifically.” I believe we need to see discipleship in the relationships we have with other people, the one-on-one conversations, the prayers, and the leadership opportunities. Our relationships matter and need to be focused on becoming mature in Christ.

I conclude with some thoughts from Joel’s book, Making Disciples In The Twenty-First Century Church. “Cell ministry isn’t primarily about the cell but making disciples who are molded, shaped, and transformed through the cell system. As leaders understand this process, a new, purer motivation develops that compels the pastor forward because of a new understanding of the why of cell ministry. Understanding that the cell strategy is primarily about making disciples places cell ministry within the biblical framework and encourages pastors to stop focusing on outward models and to prioritize a secure biblical anchor for ministry.”