How Does Discipleship Happen?

“Discipleship…involves three ways of learning: classroom, apprenticeship, and immersion.”

Discipleship, according to Mike Breen, involves three ways of learning: classroom, apprenticeship, and immersion. The classroom mostly involves the passing on of content. And that content is important! We need to know what Jesus taught about himself, and what he has commanded us to do. But knowing that content is only one third of what being a disciple actually entails.

Apprenticeship involves watching and imitating. Jesus lived a certain kind of life, and expected his apprentices to do the same. The disciple of Jesus necessarily has to “watch” what Jesus did in the scriptures, and seek to live it out. But what makes the life of Jesus easier to watch, is to be around one or more of his disciples, in flesh and blood, and watch what they do. This means that there were those who imitated Jesus in the first century, and others who imitated them, and so on, up until the present. Jesus’ disciples live Jesus’ kind of life. And by their example of living, they apprentice other disciples. This is what Paul meant when he said things like, “do what you see me do” in Philippians 4:9. So, being a disciple of Jesus requires watching and imitating other disciples who are further along in living the Jesus life.

Immersion means being dropped into the culture of a place and learning as you go. Language immersion is when you go to the country and just figure it out as you go, while being in the middle of it. It’s like being thrown into the deep end of the pool so you can learn to swim. This way of being discipled is simply to be around other disciples and “catch” their way of living, to start to speak with the accent, to catch the spontaneous movements of living the Jesus life with others.

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