“Therefore go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Not “make converts.” Not “plant churches.” Disciples. Students. Followers. Though we might use different words, we can probably agree that a disciple is someone who continually seeks to respond to Jesus’s leading, including his prompting to make other disciples. We are to make disciples that make disciples.
Although Jesus makes our goal clear, the way to reach that goal can feel confusing and burdensome to some believers. Check the web, a bookstore or curriculum catalogs. You will find more options for encouraging discipleship than you can sort through. However, the DBA staff suggests four or five models that we think might be helpful. But more important than the models are the characteristics of discipleship that they share. Simple. Life-changing. Well-rounded. Easy to copy.
The discipleship process itself can be easy to learn. Simple discipleship focuses on the word of God and avoids extraneous theory. This makes it easy for a new or experienced believer to grow throughout the week, not just in Sunday School or at church. Additionally, if the process is simple, meaningful groups can also form that do not require extensive time or training to lead. Simplicity, therefore, makes it easier to multiply disciples.
Though simple, true discipleship is not “simplistic.” Good discipleship focuses much more on the hard work of actually responding to God with real actions instead of simply knowing more stuff. 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.
So, discipleship should be well-rounded and wholistic. Jesus should affect every area of our lives, not just our “spiritual lives” or our church activities. Healthy discipleship involves 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).
How Can We Answer the Call?
DBA is committed to helping church leaders discover ways God can create and multiply disciples throughout their congregations and communities.
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
I Want to Answer the Call
Mentor a single disciple—anyone! Don’t let “how to do it perfectly the first time” stop you. DBA offers resources and coaching that can help you see this new disciple quickly and easy begin to pass on his or her faith.
Work with a group of disciples to harness the natural power of a community. A small group of disciples seeking to hear from the Spirit and serve others together can be encouraging and transforming. You could incorporate these directions into the small group ministry of your church for much greater impact. Or, create new communities of members seeking to be missionaries to those around them. Let us know and we can talk through some possibilities.
See God begin a new church through your church. A group of disciples who learn, serve, minister and even worship together might ultimately become a small organic church or larger new church plant!