Reflections on “The Biblical Model for Discipleship”
DSMN-500 Discipleship Ministries
Dr. Rodney Dempsey
Lones Seiber – 1400344
20 November 2011
The first part of this essay will attempt to analyzes and anticipate the practical application of Paul’s strategy for ministry found in Philippians 4:9. To begin to understand the practical application of Paul’s strategy for ministry, we have to start by looking at how Paul felt about his own abilities and his role as a teacher of God’s word. Ephesians 6:19-20 says, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”1 Paul knew that God commissioned us all to spread his word to those who have either not heard it or have heard it and have chosen to ignore it. Sometimes, words fail us in time of pressure and stress but God will place the correct word on the tongue. He is always there for us in all that we do; this includes teaching God’s disciples. With this in mind, we can start to dissect Paul’s strategy and model for ministry outlined in Philippians 4:9. After reviewing the readings, I believe the “process” Paul wants us to utilize as laid out in Philippians 4:9 is the Biblical Model. According to Dr. Mitchell, the Biblical Model is information, identification and experience. This is described as “transmission of raw data for constructing information and producing knowledge, the provision of an illustrative model to imitate and the motivation to practical application and life change.”2 In my view, Philippians 4:9 is the Biblical model prescribed, the Biblical Model put into practice. Look at the words of this verse carefully: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”3 It lines up with the Dr. Mitchell’s Biblical method definition as outlined above; an illustrative model to imitate; to be put into practice that will cause a life change.4 Paul was a discipler, a model for his disciples. “A discipler is a "model" (real, transparent) for the disciple. The goal is for the disciple to emulate the convictions and passion of the discipler.”5 So what is Paul’s strategy for ministry contained in this verse? I believe Paul follows the strategy that Dr. Mitchell calls the “The Proverbs 2 MetaModel for Teaching and Learning.”6 This model parallels, in my view, Paul’s words in Philippians 4:9. The commands for learning in Proverbs 2 are accept the Word of God, turn your ear to hear it, apply those words you hear, then you will understand and thus you will walk.7 I believe Paul uses Proverbs 2 as the foundation for Philippians 4:9 to bring the highest standards that he knows to the lives of his disciples. He lives what he preaches. This is discipleship. Many might wonder what replicating Paul’s life and teachings has to do with discipleship? Paul’s words compel us to understand that the more clearly we see and understand God’s truth, the more we can apply these principles to our lives and discipleship development. “Churches that are most effective in discipleship have a philosophy of ministry that places daily spiritual growth at the core of the ministry.”8 Today’s churches use a variety of methods, materials, and/or programs utilized to make disciples. When investigating the methods, materials and programs used by these churches, it is important to first define what learning is. Dr Michael Mitchell gives an excellent definition. “Learning is the process that produces change within a person. Incorporating both sensory and psychological components, this process produces alterations such as: the acquisition of new information, skills and behaviors; adjusted or confirmed attitudes and values; and the resulting emotional and volitional responses.