Making disciples

Make discipleship your goal

(Mat 28:19-20 NIV)  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Great Commission does not tell us to make converts; it tells us to make disciples. We should make that our goal. We don’t just make converts and leave them on their own.

What should we teach our disciples?

(John 15:8 NIV)  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

We can think of fruitfulness in two ways. One is to develop the fruit of the spirit that is described in the following verse. This is actually Christian character.

(Gal 5:22-23 NIV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Another way to think of fruitfulness is to bring people into God’s kingdom.

Loving others

(John 13:34-35 NIV)  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. {35} By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus told us that a trademark of being His disciple is that we love one another. Therefore this is one thing that we need to teach our disciples.

Right priorities

(Luke 14:26-27 NIV)  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. {27} And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

A true disciple of Jesus has the right priorities. He puts all things – his closest family and even his life – below God. We must teach our disciple to treasure the things that are important.

Faith building and encouragement

(Acts 14:21-22 NIV)  They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, {22} strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.

It is most important to strengthen our disciples faith because all things are lost if they fall from the faith. Therefore we must ensure that they believe the right things and know why they believe.

Many people initially accept the Bible without question. But when things get tough or when they encounter contradictory materials, they start to question more and may even lose their faith. It is therefore important to build their faith apologetically so that they will not fall out from faith.

There are many other things we can teach our disciple. But let’s not forget to compare them against the above few things that were specifically mentioned by Jesus to be trademarks of discipleship.

Do not be afraid of making strong demands if it is in accordance with God’s laws.

(Mat 8:21-22 NIV) Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” {22} But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Jesus made a strong request to ask this disciple to leave his family and follow Him. Very often we are afraid to make such strong demands on our disciples for fear that they will drop out.

It is necessary to be sensitive to the progress of the disciple. Ask God to reveal to you when it is appropriate to take your disciple to the next step. Doing so may require that you ask him to make difficult commitments that are in accordance with God’s word.

Do not demand anything from your disciple other than what is required by God.

Equip your disciple for ministry

(Mat 9:37-10:1 NIV) Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. {38} Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Jesus’ disciples did not just sit around basking in the word of God. Jesus equipped them and sent them out to do His Father’s work as well.

How can you equip your disciple for God’s ministry? Perhaps you can equip him in the word. Or you could do the ministry with him so that he can learn from you.

(Mat 9:18-19 NIV)  While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” {19} Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

Jesus equipped His disciples by making them go with Him in ministry. When He went about healing and ministering, they went with Him. It is one thing to teach your disciple about ministry and another to bring them with you when you actually do it.

Check on our disciple’s progress

(Acts 15:36 NIV)  Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”

Paul and Barnabas did not just preach the gospel and leave the new believers on their own. They are interested in how the new believers are progressing spiritually.

We should constantly check on our disciples to ensure that they are reading the Bible, praying and going to church because all theses things are crucial for spiritual growth.

Spend time with your disciple in fellowship

(Mat 9:10 NIV) While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.

Jesus did not just meet His disciples when it was time to do Bible Study. He lived with them and spent a lot of time talking and eating with them.

Is your association with your disciple confined to doing Christian activities? If that is the case, then your disciple will simply learn the theoretical aspect of the Bible. He will not see first hand how one puts the teachings of the Bible into practice in our daily life.

Pray for your disciples

(Col 1:9-10 NIV)  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. {10} And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

(1 Sam 12:23-24 NIV)  As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. {24} But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

A lot of your disciple’s progress will depend on how much you pray for him.

Have a special time of instruction with your disciple

(Mat 11:1 NIV) After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.

It is important to spend special time with your disciple or disciples on a smaller group basis to impart the word of God. Jesus spent a great amount of time teaching the multitudes but He never failed to spend special time teaching the smaller group of 12 disciples.

Special time of instruction is important as a smaller group allows the disciples to ask questions and make clarification. This would not be possible in a larger group setting.