by Kamda Swigart, Administrative Assistant for Student Ministries
Over the past four years, I’ve taken the opportunity to live out being a small group leader in CORE. I was not on staff when I started, and it has been a journey. I’ve had to figure things out as time went by, and I am glad God has shown up and worked more often then I even knew I needed him to. The journey has been hard but so sweet, and God gets all the glory in the relationships I have formed.
When I started with a group of freshman girls, I knew very little of what discipleship should look like. I have women in my life who have shown me Christ’s love and have walked with me to practically show me and teach me how to disciple others. Through studying scripture, I am learning how Jesus lived his life and led his disciples. I view discipleship as loving others more than myself and truly living life with them in a way that influences them to love Jesus more.
On a practical level, I’ve learned it looks like sharing in times of joy, having easy and hard conversations, and showing up time after time. It’s being committed to the relationship, listening a lot more than talking, asking questions, challenging them into deeper conversations, and giving them a space to be themselves and figure out who they are. I have asked lots of questions so I know how to be with them more in their struggles and joys. I share my life with them so they can see the real me and see what it looks like to live for Christ outside of a youth group setting. In all of this, I was constantly pointing them back to Jesus. What I wanted most was for my girls to see Christ in me and know they are unconditionally loved.
I think at the core of discipleship your heart has to want to love on the other person and show them Christ through you. If you have this perspective, you can be in the relationship even when things get hard, because the focus is on both of us moving towards Christ. We get to experience God’s grace and mercy together along the way.
Here are a few tips to use in discipleship:
- Build the relationship.
- Check in a few times each week; make the time to hang out over a walk, coffee, or lunch.
- Be intentional.
- Write notes; encourage them; give them goals.
- Each week our group would talk about something good and something bad that happened during their weeks. They would also share how they saw God in their lives during the week.
- Show up to their events.
- Show interest in the things they are doing or like to do.
- Have hard conversations when necessary.
- Be in the Word with them.
- Share your life with them.
- Learn how they feel loved and choose to love them in their way.
These are things I recommend to you based on my journey and experience. As I was thinking through how to write this article, I thought it appropriate that I would have my small group girls share about what they think discipleship is and how they have seen it in our journey together.
“Discipleship is an important thing that we do because if we don’t, there won’t be any accountability. There won’t be any community either. If there was not any community within the church, we would feel out of place. Discipleship is important in that we gather with each other and guide one another more towards Jesus and just love each other as Jesus did. Recently I’ve seen it through CORE and 18.24. Also through my friend Nicole, who is an older woman who I’ve grown really close to in the past two years. She likes talking with me, and I like to talk to her, too; and she just helps guide me.”
“Discipleship is important because it is one of the best ways we can grow as believers. We have to make a conscientious effort to grow in our faith, and help other to do the same. Kamda impacted me by walking with me all these years and encouraging me to read the Word and participate in Bible studies.”
“Discipleship is leading people to Jesus and sharing the love of God. I’ve seen that in my life through Kamda teaching and showing me how to have grace and love people no matter how hard or difficult it will be. In different situations she continues to point us to God’s way and his plan for us.”