2 Key Distinctives of Discipleship

Is there a Formula for Discipleship?

We have become a pragmatic and formulaic society. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put, we try to do things that we think will “work” rather than base our lives on the Word and leading of the Holy Spirit. That attitude leads us to look for formulas, a series of steps that say if I do a, b, c, and d in the correct order…voila, success!

What would the formula for discipleship look like? I’m quite sure that there are many books written to answer the question, and I promise you that I’m not disparaging any of them, just trying to get outside of the box. So with that in mind, I want to give you a couple of key words that I think can be applied to discipleship no matter how it practically looks: presence and practice.

I’m a Bible study guy! I led small groups in college soon after I was reconciled to God, led groups of teens at the high schools I taught at through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (gasp…don’t tell anybody there is ministry happening in public schools), personally led groups as a youth pastor, and lead a group now as a servant in my local church. But it was my time as a youth pastor that really opened my eyes to presence and practice.

Now I only use this as an example, so don’t limit the application of this, but here goes. When we moved from Chattanooga, TN to Dublin, GA, we were the proud parents of a year old little boy. During our time in Dublin, God added our first little girl to our merry band, and the youth group we were leading got to be a part of that whole process.

Our family was not, and is not, perfect, but we were ministering together and growing in grace in Jesus. Unfortunately, not every family can be described in that way. In fact, many of the students we were ministering to were experiencing great pain in their family relationships. So what does that have to do with presence and practice? The fact is that I saw discipleship happening in the students’ interaction with us as a family. Discipleship happened around shared meals, changing diapers, and putting children down for naps. It happened around watching football games together (go dawgs!), disciplining children, and playing golf, as well as in Bible study and serving together.

It took me a solid year to realize how many of our students were intently watching our family, our parenting, our marriage. Rest assured, though, that they were, and they are watching and discipleship happens in this way. To this day, it’s common to have a young adult over at our house during lunch to enjoy broken conversations, screaming, and children fighting (once anyway ;-). All the while, they’re trying to develop a sense of how it all fits together, the practical with the theological.

I think the takeaway here is that people need our presence to be discipled. And they need to be a part of the practice of our lives. They need to experience our presence and practice not just when we’re able to sit down in quiet and study the Word together, but when the bullets are flying!


Ritchie and his family


Ritchie Johnson serves as Director for the Precept Ministries International Transform Student Ministry. Ritchie’s passion for youth started at the time of his salvation when he was eighteen. God has exposed Ritchie to various settings of ministry with students. He worked in Georgia public schools for five years before being called into full-time youth ministry in a local church and then beginning here at Precept in March of 2007.

Ritchie and his wife, Ashley, have been involved with the student minstry as counselors, teachers, and members of the student leadership team since 1999. Ritchie and Ashley feel called to continue their work with students, rooting them in the foundation of God’s Word provided through Precept Ministries. Ritchie and Ashley have three young children.












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One Response


Solid post! You put words to what our family does and has a storng value. Thanks so much for sharing. I think we underestimate how much discipleship is caught than taught. Our students will follow us as we follow Christ – I Cor. 11:1
God bless your family and your ministry.

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