Chukwuemeka Chinedu is an ongoing Student Pastor at Nigeria Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomosho, with BSc in Economics.
What is Christian Discipleship?
What is discipleship in this context of Christian growth or the spiritual growth in the Church? Christian discipleship is how disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit equips them and conform to our spirits to overcome life's challenges and mature in Jesus Christ's image. Therefore, until a local church can define discipleship, there will be no effectual or resultant impact and transformative change that will bring about spiritual growth in the life of a Christian.
It is proper to define Christian discipleship as a process or system of intentional transformative effectual training with the power of the Holy Spirit in making and moulding one to be like Jesus Christ and to be an effective servant of Jesus Christ for a formidable ministry. Understanding the concept of discipleship is needed to bring about effective spiritual growth in a Christian. The Church has to be distinctive in making disciples that will labour in the ministry of winning souls and being used by the Holy Spirit in adding members to the Church, as our Lord Jesus Christ commanded in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-18.
The Need to Acknowledge the Power of the Holy Spirit in Discipleship for Christian Growth
The Holy Spirit is the trainer of the trainers and teachers of the teachers. For there to be practical discipleship training, yes, one has to acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about spiritual growth in a Christian. Every Pastor and trainer in discipleship training of the Church should always emphasise and stress the office of the Holy Spirit and its power to influence a person in becoming a Christian.
It is a pity that some local churches are in a sorrowful state of low spiritual maturity with the lives of their members in spiritual jeopardy and mishap, likened to a case of a newborn child left in the bush, not minding their fate. The small size of the Church is not the determinant for a local Church dwindling spirituality. Some local churches with prominent members are producing malnourished Christians, stricken with a spiritual impediment to their spiritual life, mainly because these identified local churches in respect to this problem have exchanged the power of the Holy Spirit to the power of money. In
the Scripture, according to Luke 16:13, Jesus Christ pointed out two masters: God and mammon(money). In this regard, the power of the Holy Spirit can be said not to be acknowledged when some Christians desire more money than God. Moreover, when someone referred to as a Christian thinks money provides the needs of the Church and settles the problems and challenging issues a Christian goes through. With more emphasis on the need for money than on the need for the Holy Spirit's power. Then there is an exchange of power favouring the need for money other than the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not acknowledged but despised by the local Church and its members in this issue. Everyone needs money in every physical, social and other aspect and the issue of life, and suitable for a Christian to have a healthy and wealthy life, even to the glory of God. However, it should not be craved and loved and promoted over the glory and need of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is to be well acknowledged and invited as it plays its significant role in discipleship to influence Christian spiritual growth.
A TRUE DISCIPLE OF CHRIST IS LIKE A SOLDIER WHO HAS NOTHING TO LOSE BUT HIS MARITAL AFFAIR WITH JESUS CHRIST. THEREFORE, QUIT WORRYING AND STAND.
— CHUKWUEMEKA CHINEDU
Effective Discipleship Training in the Spiritual Growth of a Christian:
The Pastor should revisit the structural learning and teaching programs needed for practical discipleship training with their respective curriculum. Like the Sunday School as one of the essential training programs of the Church should be handled well with the right facilitators in place and the resources provided by acknowledging the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Pastors and educators in the teaching and training ministry of the Church should have been well-equipped physically, spiritually and mentally for such ministry of training members of the Church to be disciples. Members of all the arms of the Church should be going through a well structured Christian educational program; the pre-schooler ministry, the children ministry, the youth ministry, the adult ministry. The Pastor should structure these arms of the Church as a discipleship training opportunity and program to influence spiritual growth.
The Office of the Holy Spirit in the Discipleship as an Influence on Spiritual Growth
As postulated by Ivan Satyavrata: "It is the Holy Spirit that does the work of transforming the individual's character in Christian Education, of what He has taught the individual to become Christ-like; the Pastor or teacher may teach, but it is God that makes the plant grow; (pg 107, 2012).
The Holy Spirit does the beautiful work of training a Christian as a disciple and impacting spiritual growth in their life. By ministering to him, by an inner voice, when the person at a fellowship meeting and in the individual's private time, the scriptures rightly say that the Holy Spirit shall guide the person who relies on him unto all truths, what they have learnt from the Pastor or educator facilitating the discipleship program. The Holy Spirit supports by revealing truths unto the trainee to transform the trainee spiritually and gradually conform to Christ, thereby setting a hopeful priority in the individual's heart to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Furthermore, the Pastor does this by instructing the individual to exercise personal devotional relation with Christ by the Holy Spirit's power and leading. The person engages in devotion and spiritual exercise when praying, fasting, giving, and studying God's word.
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Satyavrata, Ivan. The Holy Spirit: Lord and Life-giver.
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© 2021 Chukwuemeka Chinedu