Why Simply Reading Devotionals Will Not Achieve the Goal of Discipleship

The goal of discipleship is 2 Timothy 2:2 – “…and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

We are taught to teach people who will teach people. (Read that 3 more times and put in calligraphy somewhere in your house!)

The goal is not to simply be taught. If you are reading a 5 minute devotional, that is ok but incomplete to accomplish the goal of 2 Timothy 2:2.

Teens are spending 9 hours a day using screens. If they’re going to do a 2 minute devotional that doesn’t contain Scripture, their semi-renewed mind will be deluded and changed after viewing one terrible tweet. Imagine a girl who reads 2 paragraphs about being beautiful and accepted by Jesus, then receives one text written about her that was supposed to go to someone else…

Women of all ages need to read their Bible. If a 10th grader can take AP Biology, she can understand that, when Jesus fed the 5000 and there were 12 baskets leftover, that Jesus can meet her needs so well that there will be extra!

I had my heart literally broken recently. I shared the 3 circles as I was teaching. A mom approached me and said she was glad I shared the Gospel because her daughter isn’t a believer and she’s glad she heard it. As I was about to offer to pray with her – she said, “And, I’m just so nervous to have these types of conversations.”

For too long, we’ve gone to church and listened to what other people have learned from walking by the Holy Spirit that week. Or, we have spent 45 seconds reading a devotional instead of at the feet Jesus in the morning, only to never think about our faith again throughout the day.

The fruit of that – we don’t know how to have a spiritual conversation. More than devos to read, teens need people (especially family) to help them develop the discipline of having a spiritual conversation… as simple as “I read this.” When that is developed and confidence increases, it goes to “I read this and God told me this.” Jesus didn’t die so we’d be a passive learner (reading on our own occasionally with no dialogue) but that we’d be an active disciple – learning, obeying and telling others (the biblical model of a disciple).

If you want a mentor who will teach you to teach others who will teach others, here are a few ideas for developing the discipline of having a spiritual conversation:

Grab your mom, a mentor, and/or a friend in your church who will study my book Table for Two with you. You will learn how to read the Bible and how to mentor and share with others what you’ve read.

Gather a group of buddies and do a summer book club.  I LOVE Prodigal God by Keller. Highlight what stands out to you and everyone share one quote every week around a pool. Plus, share your quote every week with your family at dinner and with an older lady at church.

Now to recommend 2 devos…bet ya didn’t see that coming!! ha!

Seriously- I’m not knocking devotionals overall. I’m knocking devotionals if they start and end the 45 seconds you spend reading them. Two I like:

If you have an iPad or iPhone I would recommend the ones on the Bible app, because when you first turn on the device it says “Good Morning” and reminds you, and all the ones I’ve done have been great. And, I share something I’ve read with my hubby at coffee like 5 minutes later and I copy/paste a verse to a friend and we text back and forth about it.

Our student ministry staff has a devotional book that students can read all week. On Sunday, someone teaches on the same subject and then we small group leaders listen and share together, because we had all been reading the same topic or book of the Bible as a group.

If a devo, Christian book, or Bible study can be simply read and never shared, the fruit of reading it will not be a faithful person who is teaching others who will teach others. Let’s all be those faithful people 2 Timothy is talking about who teach others also.