by Chris Matthisen
One of the first things I do when starting a new discipling relationship is to sit down with the disciple and go over the Disciple-SHIP illustration. Every ship has a hull or body; it forms the core of what the ship is all about. The hull on some ships contains empty space where cargo may be stored. The cargo will change from time to time but you can’t change the hull without changing the entire ship and its purpose.
Disciple-making is like the hull of the ship in that it has a core body of essential truths that every disciple needs to know and this will never change. A lot of my hull essentials are about becoming a relationally strong disciple. That is the hull I am passionate about. I have designed it around the essential scriptures that relate to this emphasis. Your design will look similar to all others because there are basic truths all disciples need to have but different enough in order to emphasize your particular gifting and passion.1
The disciple’s specific needs in life I label as cargo and place it in and on top of the hull. It would be fitting for me as a disciple-maker to know those needs so I may come alongside the disciple, guide them to scripture, and help them through the need.2
What I attempt to do, as I go over the ship illustration is share with the disciple what hull issues I will teach. Then I will ask the disciple to help me fill in the cargo area. “What kinds of things do you need to work through?” With every question and answer we fill the hull with cargo related to the disciple’s needed areas of growth. It’s a great bonus if the cargo need matches a hull need. It takes wisdom to know when to teach the disciple and when to just come alongside and provide comfort. There are many times when all that the disciple needs is silence and another human being beside them.
So, set your ship a-sail and pray for God’s spirit to guide you as you journey alongside others.
1Some of the hull issues I have on my ship include: Assurance of Salvation (1 john 5:11-12), Prayer, Purpose (Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 1:28-29), Love (John 13:34-35; Matthew 22:38-40), God’s Love (Ephesians 3: 16-21); Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), servants heart (Mark 10:45), spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12), etc.
2Some cargo issues may include: Spouse or family and friends, career, emotional intelligence, various character issues, etc.