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Let's Talk: Discipleship

I've attended the Legacy Conference the third time this year and each time the workshops, devotions, sessions and panel discussions are designed to provoke change and conversation in the Christian community but mostly, to make disciples.

One of my favorite parts is the Workshop Tracks, in which I get to hit up one of Melody Fabien’s workshops. If you don’t know her and her husband’s testimony you should check it out on their website!

Stemming from their story, she’s a huge advocate for abstinence and has a passion to see women of all walks of life break ground for Jesus. The main thing I love about her is that she promotes discipleship, not just in word, but deed.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-21)

So discipleship, what is it? More importantly, what does it look like? Is it a small group bible study? A mentor relationship? Or simply doing life together? It’s all three and more. If you watch the life of Jesus you can see the way he taught and led the disciples. Then later you see more examples in people like Paul and Timothy. They cared for, rebuked, prayed and taught them the way to go according to the Word. All great virtues, all pointing toward Jesus. This past year, I caught myself wondering, where is it?! This transformative, yet scarce commission of the Christian faith. Why is it a command that few have experienced or even followed? As always, the Let’s Talk Series is designed to bring awareness to topics in order to bring insight to the reader.

Today we’re going to talk to Melody about this topic and her knowledge of having life on life experiences w/ younger women in the faith. By the end of this interview, I had to confess my lack of consistency in this area and commit to come up higher in discipleship.

1. Describe discipleship in your own words, and why it is so important.

Discipleship is important because Jesus displayed it, taught it, did it and said now you go do this, go make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that I’ve commanded you and I will go with you. So part of our mission is to teach them the Word of God and walk life on life with them. What I mean by life on life, (and you can’t do this with everyone) is a select few that you bring along on your journey. So for me it’s while I’m cooking you’re there and I’m talking to them over a meal or they come with me when I have to speak somewhere and I’m talking to a young lady while I’m driving. Some women are like “Can I come over and I’ll help you clean?” And I’m like “come over and help me clean girl and we will talk! Lol” So life on life is organic, and it’s doing life with people.

2. If you could name one thing discipleship has taught you, what would it be? (explain)

It’s interesting because I wasn’t discipled by someone at church but I was discipled by my Dad. My Dad got saved when I was 14 and he took the reins of “I need to raise my daughter in the Lord”. My parents were divorced by the time I was three, so I would meet him every weekend and we would have lunch or breakfast and he would ask me “How’s your heart?” and I’m like what?? Its beating! Lol He’s like no “how’s your heart, what’s on your heart, what’s God doing?”

And he would share his life with me. If he was struggling with things he would share things with me. He’d say, “I’m struggling with this but God is showing me this” so I saw a faith and alive and active in Christ. It was not a dead theology like “Did you go to church Sunday?” he never asked me that. In fact the questions were more like, “Have you prayed? Have you been with the Lord? Have you spent time with Him? Have you been reading your word? What’s God showing you?”

My dad’s example showed me how to do that one on one with people. So that’s discipleship to me because I saw it in my dad, He’s a great mentor.

(Discipleship taught) Consistency with people, he taught me being real with people, he taught me that it’s ok to feel, too. She goes on to describe a season where she felt like she didn’t believe in God. She was studying evolution for school her senior year of high school... He told her “I’m going to pray for you, you’re going to get through this”. Her dad helped her by sending her affirmations from Victory Over Darkness book, which were scriptures and told her “I want you to say these things over yourself.” "My dad was the one to walk me through that and not be like “how could you doubt?” He didn’t judge me, he prayed for me while I was going through it so I do that for others."

3. What does discipleship look like for you in your day to day life?

I work part time with GRIP, so I have about 20 women I meet with a month. I’m mentoring them so it’s awesome because it provides a way for me to meet with them over a meal and just ask how are you, how’s it going? I’m able to help them as they minister to their mentees. And my everyday life I’ll bring a girl with me when I’m going to preach or she’ll be with me in my house; where we’re folding laundry and talking about God. Or we’ll do a bible study, it varies. It’s very organic and led by the Spirit. I pay attention to where God is working and join HIM.

She explains how she had a girl whose been avoiding her, so she says: “So I’m going to stalk her, probably going to show up at her house because I can see her swinging away already. It’s hard, it’s chasing people sometimes. Then sometimes going “I got to leave them alone, they don’t want it” So you have to pray is it that they don’t want it, leave them alone? Or go get them? So you have to use discernment on it. “

4. Are there any difficulties that can come with discipleship? Can you describe a time you encountered a difficulty between you and your mentee and how you overcame it?

My daughter in the Lord Maria(who grew up in foster care), she was just being mean and wanted me to give up on her. I remember telling her “I know you’re acting really ugly with me, but I’m not giving up on you. I’m going to love you through your ugly”; but I remember being like “I don’t want to do this anymore! It’s too hard”. So I called a spiritual mother in my life and she’s like “you need to pray for God’s heart.” And I’m like “how do I do that? How do I get God’s heart. I need a tangible answer like, how do I do that?” She goes “You need to say God give me your heart for her so you can see her Melody, the way God sees her.”

So I hang up, my biological daughter Jael was two at the time and she walks into the kitchen and I get this vision of Maria at two and I’m like “Oh my goodness, Maria hasn’t been loved since the age of two?! And I think I’m going to come at her the age of 24 and all of the sudden she going to open up to me?”…. I was weeping in my kitchen and I got it. He gave me a momma’s heart for her at that moment.

He gave me His heart for her after that. And things changed after that because I started to really love her from a mother’s heart, before that it was mentor but you’re calling me mom. If my daughter was acting up, do I just give up on her? No. My daughter runs away do I just say you’re not my daughter anymore? No, when you’re family, you work it out. There’s always an open door policy. So I had to stick it out, a lot of dying to self. It was very difficult. It was hard; we’d have victory, then a punch. Victory then a punch it was hard. It was forgiving again, and again, and again. So that was a hard time and something I learned and how I overcame.

5. What do you think keeps people from actively making disciples?

For the most part, they don’t know. There are some people who don’t want to disciple because it's selfishness. So selfishness, pride and lack of knowledge I think are the biggest things.

Selfishness- is “I don’t want to be in people’s mess”. I’ve been in ministries where it's like “see you next Sunday!” or “cute shoes, nice hair, bye!” Where nobody really get deeper with you, no one gets in your business, nobody asks you questions. Discipleship is messy, it takes time, it’s painful, and it’s risky.

Pride- “I don’t need to pour into nobody”or they think they’re too good to meet with people.

Lack of Knowledge- is just they literally never been discipled, they don’t know. They thought they just go to church, or think it’s just “me and God”, no we’re in community. But some people don’t want it.

Sometimes I think, can I just be that church goer who just shows up? But I can’t because I know now. Once you know, you’re responsible.

6. How can the church do better at being intentional about life on life relationships in the Body of Christ?

The leadership has to be intentional. It trickles from the top down. The top cannot be going “Go meet with people go hang & disciple people”. The top has to be meeting with each other, and loving each other and meeting with people. It doesn’t mean everybody, but some so you just reproduce that. There could be remnants in the church doing it on their own. It has to be something cultivated from the leadership. If he (pastors) don’t do it, it ain't going to happen. It’ll be more about filling seats in the church than it will be about having a seat with someone over dinner and sharing a word with them, which a lot of people do.

The church has to teach it from the pulpit, display it, have examples then tell them. Ask those hard questions “Who you meeting with? How are things with the girl you’re discipling?” Then it becomes a part of the culture.

Also, radiating God’s love. People see Maria and now she’s discipling people herself.

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