Written by Youngdo Kang
If you’re like me, the concept of discipleship means listening to sermons, joining Bible studies or reading a devotional, but then having to figure out how to apply the truth to your own life. You might have been given suggestions – good ones too – but how do you figure out where to start, how to avoid the common mistakes, how to apply it to who you are and your life, and then keep going? That responsibility usually falls completely on your shoulders (whether you are good at doing that or not).
What I see in hip-hop is different. To learn one of the elements (b-boying/bgirling, graffiti writing, emceeing, deejaying), you must ask someone who has already developed the skill to teach you. Further, it wouldn’t just be a process of them explaining the facts and then you figuring out what to do by yourself. Instead, they would most likely lead you through the steps while helping you master the skill with your own unique flare.
… it takes courage, humility, endurance, effort, encouragement, and especially relationship.
It is true that nowadays, you could go to hip-hop classes, workshops or even learn it from YouTube, but what I still see in much of hip-hop is what I imagine Jesus’ followers experienced: You meet someone better than you and agree to be in a mentor-apprentice relationship. They show you how the truth plays out in their life and you do the same thing. You practise, and as you get the truth down — through this style of discipleship — you take it, make your decisions around it and let it shape who you are.
This idea has played out in my own life; let me explain how. I’m old — not old enough to have been on Noah’s Ark, but old enough to hang out with your parents more than you. Currently, I’m learning how to breakdance and I’m doing it by finding someone better than me and asking them to teach me.
They teach me by being present with me and going over the moves repeatedly. They don’t just tell me what to do, but also show me by demonstrating it themselves. Then, I try (and fail) as they watch what I’m doing, adjusting as they see fit. I practise on my own, but the next time we meet, I show them what I’ve accomplished. If it is good, they tell – and show – me another move to learn. If it’s not, they tell – and show – me again how it’s done.
This is how I imagine Jesus discipled his first followers – and it takes courage, humility, endurance, effort, encouragement, and especially relationship. (Do you know how amazing it feels when breakers I admire tell me my Baby Freeze looks good? Now imagine how dope it would be if someone told me that about how I pray?)
I’m not saying a speaker-listener dynamic in churches (or an author-reader model from books) is wrong, and I’m not saying hip-hop classes or YouTube videos are bad. These forms are often needed and have been a great help to many. However, I see a unique blessing in how the mentor-apprentice model works too.
Maybe that would be a great challenge for your life with God – whether you are starting one, growing in one, or returning to one (It might also be a good model to try if you are helping someone else in theirs)?
Let’s continue learning through these current methods, but let’s also find someone who follows Jesus better than you and ask them to disciple you in a “show me what you do and let me practise that” kind of way. Even if it’s only for a month or two to try it out, it will most likely help your faith grow more than you’ve ever thought possible.