“Go ye, therefore, and make disciples…” Not “make converts.” Not “plant churches.” Disciples. Students. Followers. Though we might each use different words, we’d probably agree that a disciple is at least someone whose is continually seeking to respond to Jesus’s leading, including His prompting to make other disciples. We are to make disciples that make disciples.
While Jesus makes our goal clear, the way to reach that goal can feel confusing and burdensome. DBA has clarified our focus to include helping church leaders with this most important job of fostering And perhaps relieve some of their pressure!
Check the web, a bookstore or curriculum catalogs and you’ll find more options for encouraging discipleship than you may know what to do with. Comparing these, DBA staff has settled on four or five models that we think might be helpful. But more important than the models, are some of the characteristics of discipleship that they share. Simple. Life-changing. Well-rounded. Easy to copy.
Simple. The discipleship process itself can be easy to learn. Simple discipleship focuses on the word of God and is not easily led astray by something extraneous. This can make it easy for a new or experienced believer to grow throughout the week, not just in Sunday School or at church. But if the process is simple, meaningful groups can also form that don’t require extensive time or training to lead. “Simple,” therefore, makes it easier to multiply disciples.
Life-changing. And though simple, discipleship can’t be “simplistic.” Good discipleship will focus much more on the hard work of actually responding to God with real actions, instead of simply knowing more stuff in our head. Over time, disciples’ lives and neighborhoods can and should be changed by Jesus’s influence. As a bonus, these results often lead to genuine curiosity and goodwill from those not yet following Jesus. Great opportunities to talk about Jesus can come from that, and lead to more Christ-followers.
Well-rounded. So discipleship should be well-rounded, wholistic. Jesus should affect every area of our lives, not just our “spiritual life” or our church activities. These directions encourage growing in our personal relationship with God (up), with each other inside our group or church (in), and with those not yet in faith (out).
Easy to copy. With this as one of our five focus initiatives, DBA is committed to helping church leaders discover ways God can create and multiply disciples through their congregation. Perhaps working with a single disciple through mentoring or coaching would be a good entry point. But often, a small group of disciples seeking to hear from the Spirit and serve others together can be encouraging and transformative. And ultimately, a group of disciples who learn, serve, minister and even worship together might become a simple church or the seed of a larger stand-alone new church plant!
Wherever your church is in “making disciples that make disciples,” let DBA come alongside you to encourage, share what we’ve seen useful in other places, and learn from what God is showing you.