Back-pocket Discipleship

Just a thought today really.  Lately, I've been filled with a sense of urgency in discipleship.  This has particularly been the case among my Bhutanese-Nepali friends, brothers, and sisters.  I'm becoming increasingly aware of the reality that some of these folks are going to move again.  Especially the sisters are likely to marry and move to other communities.  So, I've been struggling with this for a couple reasons.  For one, I feel pretty resistant to the idea of being separated from any of these people that I've given so much of my heart to.  But secondly, I'm asking myself whether or not the new/young believers in my community here are really ready to be a strong witness in an environment where there is potentially less of a support system and more hostility towards the gospel.

So, in thinking about this, I have felt -- I MUST DISCIPLE!!!

But honestly, there are many barriers to this. One of the biggest is time. Both their and my schedules are inconsistent and difficult to plan around.  It is tough to commit to a regular weekly time to meet and study the Bible together.  This structural concern has been the bottleneck.

So, I'm thinking through a new idea -- well, new for me.  The idea is "back-pocket discipleship."  That is, how can I just be always ready to disciple someone whenever the opportunity presents itself?  I still want there to be some can of organized strategy to it, but is it possible to just have something in my "back-pocket" that I can pull out whenever I find myself with a young believer that needs to be discipled?

Again, just chatting here.  But what I'm thinking about is something simple like the fruit of the Spirit.  It is absolutely vital that Christians cultivate the Spirit in their lives.  So, why not just go through the fruit one by one?  Why not keep a simple list of verses/passages related to love, joy, peace, etc., literally in my pocket? The structure of a meeting can just be prayer and reading/explaining the Scripture.  Specifically, we can ask God to pour out His Spirit in our lives.

Just thinking.  Probably there are other key passages that could lend themselves to this kind of approach.  But I'm going to start with this because I discern a real need for the Spirit's transforming work right now.  I've already jotted down some texts in the back of my Nepali New Testament (which I often take with me whenever I leave the house).  When I get an opportunity with someone, I'll just dig into the first part.  When we finish, I'll not try to plan a specific time to meet again.  Perhaps it will be a week or two weeks or two days.  When we do meet again, I'll move on to the next text.  Conceivably, in this way, I could be discipling many people because I'm not trying to fit them all into a schedule, but rather just taking them as they come.

Does this sound silly?


  1. I have officially begun my backpocket discipleship strategy. Over pizza with a couple Nepali young adults, we were able to talk together and read Scripture related to the first fruit of the Spirit -- Love. We also prayed, asking God to give us that fruit.

  2. Last week was able to do backpocket discipleship with 4 Nepalis. One was a perfect example of why I want to pursue this approach. This was a young mother who was sitting at the hospital with her daughter all day. I came by to visit and pray for them and decided to use the opportunity to study the Bible with the mom. It was great and very encouraging for both of us. Ordinarily, however, I wouldn't have seen the opportunity because I am so programmed to disciple on a "regular basis", like weekly. But backpocket style doesn't ask whether we'll be able to meet again at the same time next week. It just says, now is an opportunity -- seize it.

  3. I actually heard a pastor speaking about this concept today--what he said is that Jesus had clear times of teaching which were defined, but also took opportunities to teach when they presented themselves. Discipleship doesn't just happen within the confines of structured time; Jesus traveled alongside his disciples and taught them on a formal and informal basis.

  4. Anonymous7:24 PM

    This is awesome. I love the idea. Sad how we let the weekly idea hold us back and limit God. And funny how surprised we are when we realize we don't have to do it that way! Thank You for Your example, Jesus, and for opening our eyes more and more to You and Your ways every day! (Jessica G.)