I noted in my post yesterday that many believers who want to continue to grow in Christ are looking forward to gathering face-to-face with others again. I pray that conclusion did not imply that I’m opposed to remote discipleship, as I’m not. In fact, I disciple more men outside of Wake Forest, NC (where I live and teach) than I do in Wake Forest. Here are some of my reflections about those experiences.
- Many of us who disciple will be forced by our mobile society to consider discipling remotely at some point. Mentees move. They get distant jobs. God calls them to other places. For many folks, long gone are the days when they stayed in one area their entire lives. We must be ready to disciple from a distance.
- Almost all of my remote discipling relationships began with at least one face-to-face, in-person meeting. Some of my mentees were my students. I met others while speaking briefly in collegiate conferences. Geographic distance now makes it hard for us to meet in person, but we still meet regularly.
- Almost all of my remote mentees also have someone closer to home who walks beside them. Most of the time, it’s somebody who attends their local church with them. It’s often a pastor or campus ministry director. In any case, I’m not their only discipler—and I think this is ideal.
- Frankly, it’s sometimes easier to catch up with someone via phone than it is to meet in person. That’s especially the case these pandemic days, but it’s most often the case other days, too. You can accomplish a lot via a short phone call (in my estimation, more than you can with a text).
- We still have honest, hard, needed conversations virtually. I echo my concern raised yesterday that it’s probably easier to avoid honesty over the Internet, but that doesn’t mean hard conversations never work. A genuine relationship allows for honesty, no matter the medium.
- We can still talk about Bible passages, discuss sermons, pray, and consider life together. It’s different when we’re not in church together or hiking in the woods together, but we still have the same kinds of conversations.
- What I most miss are the times of doing ministry together in a way that models and encourages others. I miss it because I enjoy my ministry time with these men, but they are getting ministry opportunities where they live. I serve now more as a resource than a guide for them.
- I have the blessing of a ministry that allows me to visit some of my mentees when I’m on the road. I’m grateful, for those times are sweet, indeed – but it’s the remote discipling the rest of the time that keeps the discipleship relationship current.
What are your thoughts?