Jani Ortlund: Hello, everyone! I’m so glad you’ve joined us today for another of our discipleship lessons. I have loved teaching this series. It’s been hard sometimes to know how to communicate it through this microphone, but I so appreciate those of you who have emailed us or contacted us through our website and let us know how helpful it’s been. Many of you I’ve spoken to as we’ve traveled and taught in different places around the United States and even overseas in Britain; several of you came up—thank you for letting me know that. I’ve benefited as well as I’ve worked on this podcast, with my own discipleship group, tightening it up a little bit and perfecting it, making it just that much better. So, thank you for going on this journey with us together.
Pre-meeting prep / WORKSHEETS
Now, let me encourage you leaders, with some pre-meeting prep. Turn off the podcast and make copies for everyone in your group of two things.
1. Our Commitment to Each Other
The first one is “Our Commitment to Each Other” handout from our very first lesson together, we’re going to use it today. It’s from the podcast entitled, “Welcome to Discipleship.” You can find it there.
2. Curriculum Suggestions for a One-Year Discipleship Group
Also make copies for everyone in your group of “Curriculum Suggestions for a One-Year Discipleship Group” which you will find in today’s lesson. So you’ll need copies of both of those. Just pause the podcast and go make them.
Now I want to start our time together today with a little bit of an explanation. In our last episode, I told you that we would have oh, maybe three or four more episodes on discipleship, but I’ve changed my mind. This is going to be our final podcast in our discipleship series. I want you leaders and groups to decide how many more times your group should meet together before dismissing for the summer. That will depend on your school schedules, vacation schedules, where you are in your biography reports—all of those things. How many more times do you want to meet together before dismissing for the summer?
At this time in my own group, I usually catch up on any biography book reports that need to be shared, as well as reviewing our Bible Memory assignments. I also will often teach on Christian marriage, if the women in our group are married, or raising children to love Jesus if most of our members have children. It kind of depends on the makeup of my group. Leaders, you’re going to have to decide. If you want you want to spend some time talking about either marriage or children. You can look up episodes on this podcast in those areas. Just go to our website at herestoresmysoul.org and type in the words “marriage” or “children” in the search bar. And you will see what teaching is available for you then you can listen to that podcast for your teaching time in your group if you’d like. Either way, decide together how many more times you will meet and then use this lesson for your last time together. Hopefully that makes sense.
On Ending Well
So today I am going to share with you how we bring our group to a satisfying conclusion before we dismiss for our summer break, and I want to start with worship. So, everyone, take out your Bibles and turn to Colossians 3:14-16. Follow along as I read.
“And above all these put on love which binds everything together. You in perfect harmony, and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you recall the in one body and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”Colossians 3:14-16
Now, that’s what we’ve tried to do all year long, isn’t it? Leaders handout the “Our Commitment” page that you copied off from our very first podcast on discipleship and glance over that together. Honor the ladies in your group for keeping their commitments. Well done! Then I want you to spend some time thanking and praising God for how you have seen him work his love, and His peace and His Holy Word into your hearts and relationships with each other. Go ahead and spend some time in prayer, thanking and praising God for these things.
Accountability during the Summer
Now let’s spend some time and accountability – your quiet times. Talk about continuing on with this over the summer, you’ve tried to develop a lifetime spiritual habit. You don’t want to give up on it during the summer time. I would encourage you to be accountable to each other to keep reading through the Bible over the summer months. And ask your ladies to have at least one extended quiet time over the summer.
Share your meditation and memory verses. Try to say them out loud to each other. Encourage everyone to keep meditation and Bible Memory work as part of their regular, weekly spiritual disciplines. We don’t want to let these go now that we’ve been practicing them for nine months. We want them to sink deep into our daily walk with the Lord.
Finally, during this accountability time, share your three short-term goals that you wrote in January from your lifetime goals. How did you do with them? Did you complete them? Encourage your ladies to think through three short-term goals they would like to accomplish between July 1st and December 31st of this year.
Curriculum Suggestions for A One-Year Discipleship Group
Now your teaching time is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to ask you to hand out the “Curriculum Suggestions for a One-Year Discipleship Group” and briefly skim them. Look over them. Encourage your group members in how much they have accomplished in their nine months together.
Ask your group,
“What would you encourage me to continue if I disciple others next year? What what worked for you?”
And then ask them,
“What would you encourage me to discontinue? What wasn’t as helpful as you’d hoped it would be? What should I change?”
Also ask them this:
“Were there any surprises in your expectations for our group? Any challenges beyond what you you thought might happen in our group? What about disappointments? Were you disappointed in anything?”
Again, “What would you change in our discipleship group if I were to do this again?” After you’ve discussed this, turn off the podcast and take a break for a few minutes.
Sharing & Prayer
Now come back for your sharing and prayer time. Ask your members, “Would you like a weekly text check in regarding how you are doing with your quiet times?” If so, Leaders set up a group text right now if you haven’t already. It’s a great way for you to check in. Every whatever day you meet—we meet on Thursdays—so every Thursday, I could just send out a text and say, “How are you doing in your quiet times?”
Mini-Retreat / Reunion
Then take out your calendars and find a date in August for a reunion where you can gather together to check in with each other face to face on your Bible reading, on your goals, as well as future plans for your year. Sometimes, my group has decided to have an overnight. I have a few extra bedrooms, and sometimes we’ve had it here or at a hotel. We meet together on a Friday night and then spend Saturday morning together have brunch, and then head home at noon time. It’s a perfect time to catch up on our summer to see how we’re doing with our daily disciplines, and to pray for each other for the coming fall. Also, if any of your disciples are discipling their own group, it’s wonderful for you to know so you can encourage them. Sometimes I encourage a couple of my disciples to join together and ask one or two women if they’d like to join them as they go through the discipleship curriculum again.
a small Gift
Finally, I try to give each of our members a small gift to signify our year together. Throughout the year, I take cuttings from my Pothos plant. I’m sure you would recognize this common house plant; many of you probably have them in your home. It has that trailing vine like foliage, and heart shaped leaves—you really can’t kill it. It’s just the perfect house plant for someone like me who travels a lot. Once I take those cuttings, I just stick them in glass jars, and fill the jars with water and watch them take root is they enjoy a quiet, moderately lit shelf somewhere in our home. And then, for our final meeting, I make sure there are enough glass pots, and I divide the cuttings up into them. I tell my group that I’d like them each to choose one of these glass jars and take home with them—empty the water out and so that they can get at home safely in their car—and then once they get home, fill it with water and just find a nice little nook in their home where they can put it and be reminded of our time together. I tell them that they like these cuttings will stay green as long as they’re immersed in the living water that Jesus gives us. I encourage them maybe to have it somewhere near where they have their quiet time so they can be reminded of our time together and the lessons God taught them in this year of discipleship.
Then take time to share your personal prayer requests and pray for each other before you conclude this final meeting together before you break for the summer.
Now let me make a few final comments. First of all, thank you for all your encouraging emails and “Ask Jani” notes on our website from this series. My prayer is that you will continue to disciple us in what’s helpful to you from this resource, but developing even further how the Lord wants to use you to disciple the women he brings to you in your own particular way.
Now for future reference, our amazing webmaster will have all the handouts that he has formatted for us. He’s going to put them in an easily accessible form on our website. Just go to our website at herestoresmysoul.org and click on Resources.
NEW Book (in the works)!
I also want you to know that I need to take the next several weeks to work on a writing deadline for my new book that, actually, I should say our new book that Ray and I are working on together. It’s a book about raising a Christian family. If you just joined us here at He Restores My Soul for this discipleship series, our team would encourage you to go back to some of our earlier episodes. We even have different series you might be interested in like “Going Deeper with God” or “Influencing Children for Christ” or there’s even a series on the 10 Commandments that has been quite popular. We also have several “Ask Jani” episodes, so go on back and enjoy those.
Renewal Ministries (renewalministries.com)
Finally, I want to remind you that this podcast is a ministry of Renewal Ministries, which is entirely donor supported. If you would like to follow will Ray’s and my ministry, and where we’ll be teaching, just go to our website at renewalministries.com (not .org) and subscribe to our monthly email update there. You will receive a short one page email. It’s a little devotional with a list as well of where we’ll be traveling to speak. We’d love to stay connected with you in this way. Again, you can find that at renewalministries.com (make sure to type in “.com” and not “.org”).
My prayer is that this series on discipleship has led you through green pastures and beside still waters, and that through listening and applying what you’ve heard, our gracious Shepherd has restored your soul. God bless you my friend.