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4 essentials of discipleship

Disciple-makers lead a 65-year-old ministry to health and greatness

4 essentials of discipleship

University of Virginia students from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes prepare breakfast at the Salvation Army every Saturday among other community service activities.

In addition to coaches and athletes, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes wants every person to know and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ — and to help them lead others to do the same. Engaging disciples who make disciples — it’s what FCA is all about.

Jesus left this earth with a clear message in Matthew 28:19-20: Make disciples of all nations, and teach them the commandments of God. But what does it look like to be a disciple?

The Bible dictionary defines a disciple as “a student, learner or pupil.” Simply put, a disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. His or her life, purpose, character and values align with Jesus. The Apostle Paul, when speaking of his discipleship of Timothy, conveyed his heart by saying, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance…” (2 Timothy 3:10, NIV). Paul’s life goal was advancing the Gospel message and living a Gospel-centered life of disciple-making.

Many years ago, God placed discipleship on my heart and showed me the importance of investing in others to advance the Gospel and glorifying His name in the process. Discipleship is my way of life — it’s my purpose. I am grateful for the work God called me to in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As a member of the Board of Trustees, I get an upfront view of how He uses the resources at FCA to make disciples of Jesus Christ. The opportunities to disciple coaches and athletes continue to grow.

Earlier this spring, I shared Gospel truths to coaches and athletes during a youth basketball practice in New York City. After sharing, one teary-eyed young man told me about his brokenness, shared his story and allowed me to pray with him. It was truly a God moment!

As I’ve experienced, studied and watched discipleship, I believe there are four essentials:

  1. REVELATION — BIBLE: Getting Bibles into the hands of as many people as possible gives us the opportunity to allow the Gospel message to reach the hearts of each recipient. The Bible reveals man’s condition and God’s plan for humanity. FCA prints more than 200,000 Bibles per year and has distributed 2.5 million Bibles around the world in the past 15 years!
  2. OBSERVATION—RELATIONAL: In a community that’s studying God’s Word together, we engage in fellowship and the relational aspects of discipleship come into focus. We’re not called to be Christians alone! We teach this to coaches and athletes through our FCA Huddles and Camps.
  3. APPLICATION—PERSONAL: As we learn what God desires, a personal response and application to our lives is required.
  4. MULTIPLICATION—INTENTIONAL: When we become a disciple of Christ, the process is multiplied, and we are empowered and equipped to make more disciples. At FCA, this often looks like campers inviting their friends to Camp. It can also look like sharing our faith with others or inviting someone to serve and invest in ministries alongside us.

It has been a joy to watch and experience the disciple-making process at FCA and partner in this kingdom work! I pray all would both engage in discipleship essentials in their lives and continue supporting discipleship worldwide. At FCA, investment like this has enabled this wonderful ministry of 65 years to fulfill the Great Commission.

Darlene Johnson was recently named the Chair of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Board of Trustees and started her role in January 2020.

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