We are in a new day. Meetings no longer have to be done in person. Illness and conflicts don’t have to interrupt disciple-making plans.
As we approach this new day, I believe it is natural that most disciple-making invitations will still result from face-to-face encounters and relationships. They will come from interactions with people at work, school, the marketplace, or at church.
Some invitations will be requests from people who will ask us to disciple them. Others will be invitations we extend to people we meet or know. These disciple-making meetings will range from leading a lost person to understand his/her need for Jesus as Savior and Lord to helping a new Christian lay foundations to grow as a disciple. Still others will help mature Christians overcome problems, develop new spiritual disciplines, disciple others, etc.
Naturally, some disciple-making will continue to be face-to-face, but convenience and interruptions will force some disciple-making to be online. Life is full and busy. People travel. But they take their phones with them. Zoom and other online tools make disciple-making possible wherever we go.
After a face-to-face encounter, some online meetings will be a choice. For instance, you meet someone during a conference who asks you to disciple him/her. (Keep in mind that it is usually best to disciple the same gender.) Since you don’t live near one another, you trade contact information and settle on the best time to meet weekly online.
Another scenario is that you have been discipling Matt face-to-face for six weeks, but he will be out of state for work next week. Rather than skip a meeting, you schedule a Zoom meeting with him for that week. That enables your progress to continue and the number of weeks required not to stretch out.
During your online meeting, you can do the same disciple-making meeting elements that you have chosen to practice face-to-face (see Disciple-Making Meeting Elements). You can ask questions, check on scripture memorization, and much more. You want to see homework? Ask for it to be sent electronically (take a picture, scan, etc.) in advance of your meeting or share your screen in Zoom or other online tools.
If you are discipling two or more, you can ask the absent person to connect online or have the entire group meet that way. In fact, with two or more, the potential for interruptions and conflicts obviously increases making online tools a huge help.
When choosing to disciple online, it is important to be intentional in developing relationships face-to-face. Share a recreational activity. Ask your disciple to travel with you to a meeting. Visit your disciple in the hospital or for a recognition. You get the idea.
With a group, plan some activities together. Find out what the group likes to do. Eat together. Enjoy conversation around a project or fellowship activity. Time spent together helps to build a sense of trust that helps the disciple-making efforts become even more effective.
Add Online to Your Plans
Post COVID-19, online disciple-making will be even more popular and comfortable. Add online to your plans when it suits you and your disciples. Use online to ensure conflicts and interruptions don’t result in poor habits in your disciple-making efforts. Be a disciple. Make disciples!