You’ve thought about it and you’ve prayed about it.
Now, it’s time to extend the invitation.
The first step in discipling women is prayer, the second step is the invitation.
My very first discipleship year, I invited five women to coffee, or as I like to call it- the awkward coffee.
Five different women and five separate coffee dates.
It was my hope that of the five, at least three women would be interested in participating in a discipleship relationship with me.
It’s not easy to put yourself out there. Rejection is a fear we all have. But, I fear not living my spiritual life to the full even more, so I found myself pushing past the fear and having coffee quite a bit.
And, honestly, I am nervous each time, still.
No matter how long I do this, before I arrive at each appointed coffee house, there are lies that bounce around in my head telling me “You have nothing to give and nothing to share that could help this woman.” If you struggle with the same stinkin’ thinkin’ remember that you have much to share. Don’t let lies hold you back–ever.
I have life experiences (marriage, divorce, single motherhood, blended family, parenting teens, parenting adults, cancer and the death of my mom, and of course my sin nature) that help me relate to other women. My years of walking with the Lord through each mountaintop high and valley low with the Lord are the very things that give me the ability to speak into other women.
What life experience makes you unique?
Life experiences, both the joy and the pain, are what give you the right to have a voice in someone else’s life. Never feel like you have nothing to share or little wisdom to teach, because you have more than you think.
And, it’s not about you anyway.
What do you talk about?
Once I’m face-to-face with the woman I’m meeting, it isn’t long before the Lord gives me a fresh wave of peace and the butterflies in my stomach flutter away.
Enjoy a little small talk. Ask about her life, her family, how long she’s been married or how she enjoys her job or school or even the weather. These are great ice breakers. Once small talk is over, I might share a snippet of my testimony before I share my hope in helping her grow in her faith.
I might share how I love the Titus 2 mandate for women to help other women. Sometimes I even share the story of Mary and Elizabeth in the Gospel of Luke and how I believe they’re the perfect picture of a discipleship relationship.
Each time I have that awkward coffee, I bear my heart wide open, “I have been a Christian for about twenty years now, and while I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to grow in my faith, I can only imagine how I would’ve learned a lot faster had I had someone to walk alongside me while raising my family. I’d love to be this person for you.”
Share the Vision
Share the vision. Discipleship is a relationship that looks different on each woman who helps another into spiritual maturity. For some, theirs is a step by step process that is structured and doesn’t step out of the lines they’ve drawn. For others like me, discipleship is a weekly gathering together where we discuss our Bible reading, share in prayer and memorize scripture. (I’ll be sharing more on that in the weeks to come.) My discipleship method evolves. We move and bend where the Holy Spirit leads.
While we do read through the Bible each year, I try to meet the needs of the women in our group. If it’s parenting needs or marriage needs or whatever is happening in their life at the moment. This is where we camp in God’s word and this is where we learn.
Be clear with expectations. I ask the women to sign a covenant. If they’re married, their spouse signs it as well. It outlines the guidelines of a discipleship relationship like accountability, transparency and their commitment to the group. We also discuss when we will meet and for how long. General questions like, what kind of study will we be doing? Will there be homework? What kind of topics are discussed? How much is too much to share?
My coffee dates last anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour or longer. It all depends on the person. No matter how we begin, or how long we chat, each meeting ends the same way. I ask her to pray about it.
While I know it’s often a Christian woman’s go-to request, “Please pray about it.” It’s what she must do to bring clarity to her decision every time.
The awkward coffee may be how your time together begins, but it won’t be how it ends. Ask her if it’s okay for you to pray for her before you leave. Then, take a minute and petition the Lord on her behalf. Then let her know you’ll be contacting her in the next day or two to see what she decides to do.
Whether she takes you up on your offer of discipleship or not, prayer is a beautiful way to finish your time together well.
By Joanne Kraft
Joanne Kraft is a nonfiction author and national speaker. She’s the founder of Grace & Truth Living – Discipleship for Women. Joanne’s passion is to encourage and equip women to be transformed through discipleship.
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