Discipleship can no more be done by long distance teaching than a pot on a wheel can be formed by a potter sitting in another country.
Discipleship is a conforming to the image of Jesus process, not an informing from Bible information process.
Jesus taught the multitudes at a distance, discipled a few up close. Teaching can be done long distance, conforming cannot.
I can be quite full of accurate Bible information and not be conformed to the image of Jesus, which is the goal of discipleship. For example, I can be a walking talking Bible encyclopedia, “anointed” and all that, and still mistreat my wife and family (as the scores of heart broken “pastor’s wives” I have dealt with would testify to!).
Conforming discipleship requires proximity in real life, and that cannot be done long-distance.
You cannot see someone’s interactions long distance.
You cannot see them under pressure and stress long distance.
You cannot read body language and facial expressions long distance, you cannot see how someone treats a waiter or waitress long distance.
You cannot see how someone interacts with is/her neighbors long distance.
Discipleship may include teaching, but not all teaching is discipleship. I can teach/preach/share with a crowd, including long distance, modern technology and all that but discipleship, that’s another matter…to me any way.
-Stephen R Crosby