People come to Jesus from all kinds of places and backgrounds and motivations. This is part of the richness and beauty of the body of Christ. The only trouble is, if we want to help them all become spiritually mature as disciples of Jesus, we need to take a little time to help everyone get on the same page. What do you mean when you talk about sin? Prayer? Jesus? The Kingdom of God?
Start Here by Don Williams is a cohesive, start-to-finish road-map to being a Christian from a Vineyard perspective. Don Williams is one of the great scholars of the Vineyard movement, and he has intentionally written this book so that people at any stage of Christian life can use it as a tool to grow more mature in their faith. The cookies are on every shelf, so to speak—there is plenty that is accessible and helpful for a brand-new believer, but there is also plenty for someone who’s been a Christian for years.
It begins with what happens when we give our lives to Jesus: “You were delivered from Satan’s kingdom and catapulted into the kingdom of God.” From there, Williams methodically lays out what it means to participate in the Kingdom of God and to live lives of worship and surrender to Jesus. He talks about how knowing Jesus isn’t just about “fire insurance,” or forgiveness of sins. It’s about a totally different kind of life that we live now.
If you’ve been looking for a practical discipleship tool, here is an example of how Start Here is used in Multiply Vineyard’s Residency+ program through Vineyard Institute. Students are asked to gather a few people who want to grow and take them through this book as a way to learn and practice discipleship skills.
Here’s how it works: You sit down regularly together and talk about one chapter each time you meet. Ask probing questions and help the folks you are working with process their responses to the material. Let your meetings be a time where they can wrestle with a new conception of what it means to human and to follow Jesus. Encourage and pray for them. Not only will they be learning about God’s kingdom, but they’ll be experiencing it—healthy relationship and the comfort and challenge of God’s presence.
One of our Residency+ students told us about how he has been doing this very thing with a friend of his who loves Jesus and might have some leadership potential, but didn’t really have anyone discipling him.
“In our first meeting, I simply asked ‘So what about the book is really interesting to you?’ His brow furrowed, and he said, ‘The Kingdom. I’ve never thought of it this way. But there is something about it that just seems right.’ We have continued to process together how the perspective of the kingdom of God is the most prominent theme that Jesus speaks about. And all I had to do was ask what he thought was interesting. What surprised me the most was how excited he was that I asked him to do this. I think we often are worried about people not accepting our offers and getting turned down. For him, it was a chance for someone to take interest in him and develop him.”
At the end of the day, discipleship is always about relationship—with God and with people. But a few good tools can be incredibly helpful to pave the way. So if you haven’t yet, check out Start Here.
Tell us what you think: Have you used this book? How did it go? What other discipleship tools do you use in your church?