Sponsor, Counsel, or Disciple: What is the Difference?


Pure Word Ministries’ desire is to equip and prepare believers to disciple Christians of all ages, races, and backgrounds. The Word of God is totally sufficient for this task and has the answers for every problem that man may face.

We want to see the fulfillment of the Great Commission in our lifetime. It’s been said that if one person disciples another person for one year and then, in turn, both reach another person and each disciples that person for one year, and in each subsequent year each of these, in turn, do the same thing, it would only take 33 years to evangelize the whole earth. Rather than leave this as theory, we want to see it happen! We want to be found faithful with those the Lord sends us. May we be found working when He returns.

Pure Word Ministries does not "counsel" or "sponsor" but rather "disciples" individuals who desire to bring about real change in their lives. What is the difference? "Counseling" or "sponsoring" is defined as advice, opinion, or instruction given in directing the judgment or conduct of another. A counselor or sponsor is one who counsels and is in an elevated position over another. The person being counseled or sponsored submits his or her will to this individual for a season of time.

"Discipleship" or "mentoring,” on the other hand, is defined as teaching, training, or grasping. A disciple is one who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another, a follower of Christ. A discipler seeks to serve and lift up the other individual. He is to be under him or her or a foot washer. A discipler doesn’t have or exert authority over another. We are to train others to follow Jesus not ourselves or our philosophies. In discipleship, the individual is never led to submit his or her will to another human being, but is taught to obey the Word of God and to yield to, and be filled with, and led by the Holy Spirit. He or she is taught to follow the directives in the Word of God for the issues that arise during life’s challenges and trials.

The goal of our discipleship ministry is to bring about effective personality and behavioral change. The process in which this goal is reached is to confront, comfort, and teach biblical principles. We believe that through the study of His Word, the power of prayer, accountability, and fellowship, challenging issues can be completely overcome. A Discipler provides an example through his or her own trials, share hope, and stand beside the disciple, as he/she learns the principles and power of the Scriptures as well as the faithfulness of God. This helps both of them to realize, recognize, and live out God’s solutions as each problem or trial is conquered.

In the Great Commission, Jesus gives us our ministry orders and authority. He commands us to go and make disciples of all men. In Colossians, Paul gives us the instructions and procedures. We have been given all authority in both heaven and on earth, so we no longer have to deal with fear. He guides and directs us by the Holy Spirit to the people we can help, in spite of and through our shortcomings. We are edified and strengthened by these relationships as we admonish, teach, and experience God’s presence as well as by the fruit we see manifested in the lives of those we serve.

Serving in the Grip of Grace,

Randy Nurmi

Copyright © 2004 Randall Nurmi 
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