Our Generosity Checklist for Relational Discipleship

October 21, 2019

Question: When Christians use the word “discipleship”, what is it often referring to? Church programs? A list of things to do?

Watch Pastor Albert Tate speak about the difference between a transactional and a relational approach to discipleship:

Question: What has been your own experience of discipleship? Has it been more transactional or relational?

In the video, Albert uses his shopping experiences to illustrate the difference between a transactional and relational approach to discipleship. In one store, he receives help finding an item by being pointed to the aisle where it’s located. In the other store, the store associate walks with him to personally help him locate the item. One points while the other walks with him.

The Example of Jesus

This distinction is vital for carrying out Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20. His command is to “go and make disciples.” What is a disciple of Jesus? “A disciple of Jesus is one who is with Jesus, learning to be like him” (Dallas Willard). Jesus first invites us into life and relationship with him. He does not simply point out the way we should live. He invites us into life with him—a relationship marked by generous love and grace. And he’s promised to be with us in all aspects of our journey through life: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

To disciple others is to lead people into the abundant life and love that Jesus offers. [Tweet This

As Albert Tate says, “You don’t just point people, you walk with them.” We can see this modeled by Jesus in his encounter with Zacchaeus in Luke 19. When Jesus comes to the location and sees Zacchaeus perched in a tree, he says to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Jesus’ relational approach was frequently seen in the way he invited and welcomed people into relationship as the first step to finding life in God’s kingdom. In other words, a relational approach to discipling others is grounded in love.

Checking Our Motives

Jesus’ relational approach stands in contrast to a transactional approach which can often approach people in a more impersonal way, as objects to influence as opposed to people to know. [Tweet This]

A transactional approach can be more task-based as opposed to being driven by the needs of people. Some helpful diagnostic questions to guide a more relational approach to discipling are:

  1. Do people feel welcomed, loved and known? (Ask them!)
  2. How is love being manifested? What does it look like in practice? (Love is not abstract. It is tangible.)
  3. Where is love being manifested?
  4. Would the recipients of your discipling characterize your efforts as love (vs. a more transactional program or an agenda to become what you want them to be)?

Ultimately this relational posture toward others is grounded in and flows out of the generous love each of us has first received from Jesus. Because we’ve experienced God’s generous life and love—because we’ve been known, loved and accepted in Christ—we’re motivated to walk with others in life so that they too might experience the life and love of God.

Reflect and Respond:

  • How would you describe your relationship to Jesus? Is it more relational or transactional?
  • If you’ve experienced the generous life and love of God, how might it overflow into your relationships—at work? At home? At play? (Think of specific people who occupy those spheres and be tangible in your response.)
  • How might you become more intentional about releasing this divine generosity to others?
  • When you are with someone, do you practice being fully present by attentively listening to them and resisting the impulse to prepare a response? Are you comfortable with silence and long pauses in conversations to allow the other person space to reflect further and deeper?
  • Have you ever risked asking someone if they felt known and loved as a result of spending time with you?

Let’s all encourage one another towards more authentic relationships first. Please share your comments and tips below, too.

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A Relationship Builder for your Church Team

"I have never been in a meeting, even in this church with people who have known each other for decades, where people became so real and transparent with each other as they did during this time.” - Rodney Schell, Executive Pastor, Park Cities Baptist

As a next step in building a relational vs transactional discipleship mindset in your church, we recommend the Overflow Experience -- a casual, interactive retreat experience with no lectures, break-outs or brainstorming sessions. Our retreats are discussion-based around inspiring real-life stories and Scripture. And thanks to the generosity of our ministry partners, the retreat is affordable and accessible. 

Watch the free Introductory Webinar.  

Contact Us to learn more about hosting your own local event.  

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