True discipleship for those who once ascribed to the religion of Islam is radical discipleship. A radical commitment to follow and obey the Living Christ is a serious thing for Muslim background believers in Christ. The cost of discipleship, following and becoming like Christ, is extremely high for these individuals.
As one engaged in constant inter-faith dialogue and discipleship of Arabs, I take a 'Betrothal Approach' to true discipleship. I have definite authority and responsibility before God for the new disciples who are entrusted to me, as a father has authority and responsibility to prepare and present a daughter for marriage. See: 2Cor. 11: 1-6; 1Cor. 4: 15-17; 2Cor. 10: 12-18. As practicable makers, we need to be both careful and intentional with the exercise of this authority. It is given to build up and edit, not to tear down. God's desire is to transform Christ's disciples into Christ's image, and nothing else. True discipleship for former Muslims must incorporate these principles to be successful.
Roland Allen said, "We've failed in much of our endeavors because we've failed to trust new disciples to the Holy Spirit's care." In light of this penetrating statement, I have chosen to trust Him with the lives and direction of new disciples who were once Muslims. He will enable the proper foundation of Christ to be laid, and He (not our expertise or oversight) will empower them to follow Christ. Our job is to cooperate with Him as Christ is formed in them, and not to lay extra burdens upon them. We must understand that different daughters (disciples or churches) will look and behave differently in regard to worship styles, approaches to ministry, cultural forms, religious identity, language, etc. as they mature, but our job is to focus on the main issues.
This is easily illustrated by a simple saying that we recall from time to time in order to foster this betrothal (or paternal) spirit amongst ourselves, "A good minister, disciple maker, or leader is like a good dad, or a good coach. " We are constantly seeking to care for, and guide Christ's disciples toward concern in Him. The goal is that they become more and more like Him every day, and that because of this they lead others toward this same goal. Muslim background believers face special challenges in following Christ, but through true discipleship, increasing levels of maturity can be realized.
Now, as guides, big brothers and sisters, or spiritual fathers and mothers, we have and exercise this authority through relationship with them as any good father or mother would do. This is where true discipleship can sometimes be controversial. It would, be very disturbing if "Uncle First Church" continuously knocked on the door and demanded that we do things in our home (church / Kingdom Community) the way that he and his family (church) did things in their home. He has no authority in this new family's matters. Paul constantly guarded new churches against outside "apostles" and influencers who sent to enter the scene and imposes their views and desires on the churches that God had used Paul to establish (See: Acts 15: 1-2; 2Cor. 11: 2; Acts 20: 29-31; Gal 1: 6-10). Paul held the simplicity of the Gospel in high esteem, as do we. As I always say, true discipleship will be messy. Fish stink. Cleaning fish stinks.
Of course, our new families (churches) will be in relationship with others in the world-wide body of Christ, as any normal family is in relationship with its own extended family and the wider community in which it is set. True discipleship allows for individuals to be individually and corporately like Christ. For believers coming from Muslim backgrounds, many difficult challenges must be faced. If atrophies arise within a natural family, the extended family and community (government) is obligated to step in. In the church setting, if disciples are being told things like – there are many ways to God (salvation), that Jesus is not really God, etc. then obviously, such atrocities need to be addressed.
As spiritual fathers and mothers we recognize that Christ is not expecting a 100% theologically accurate bride, or a bride who is conformed to Western (or Eastern) ways, values and denominationalism. This is not the aim of true discipleship. He's expecting a holy bride that is wholly committed to his teachings, unashamedly bearing His very character, devoted to Him in every aspect of her life, and diligently attending to the Father's business when He returns for her. Christ has secured a kingdom of kings and sacrifices, and care must be taken to insure that new disciples and churches are serving and worshiping God acceptably (according to His standards) with reverence and Godly fear.
With true discipleship in place, how will we know when someone is maturing? Answer: When he is relentlessly adhering to the teachings of Christ, consistently demonstrating the character of Christ, stable in his spiritual disciples, and making disciples (reproducing).
This will all be possible because of our intentional approach to true discipleship and church planting. We are involved in the lives of new disciples on more than just a classroom level. We have four very specific goals for effective discipleship.
When a person comes to true faith in Christ he becomes His disciples, or in other words, His true follower. His allegiance is transferred to Christ, and his aim is to be like Christ in every area of his life. This striving to be like Christ is facilitated by the Biblical process of true discipleship.