Discipleship is a trending buzz word in the Christian community. As I talk to different pastors and church leaders, an emphasis on making disciples is the increasing desire of the church. Jesus’ final words commanded all believers to “Go and make disciples”. Yet, it seems that attempting to define what authentic discipleship looks like is a huge road block for followers of Christ. The sobering reality is we don’t know how to make disciples because we haven’t been discipled. As a result, we tend to make the mistake of diminishing discipleship to a 10-week Bible study or a group of men that call themselves an “accountability group”. As pastors all over the world struggle to find the secret sauce of ‘making disciples of all nations’, I believe Christians have made discipleship more complicated than it really needs to be.
As Jesus poured into the lives of 12 men who came from different backgrounds, different careers, and different understandings of who Jesus was, we don’t see him hold a discipleship class. Jesus didn’t promote a 12-week course on “How to be a disciple” or “Discipleship Making 101”. Discipleship was confined to a big building or a meeting once a week. So what was Jesus’ secret in creating disciples?
It is simple.
He intentionally invested in the lives of others.
So how do you and I create disciples?
As Jesus did ministry, the disciples watched his every move. They watched Jesus have compassion for the outcasts, reach out to the broken, and love on people who the society dismissed. He didn’t fall into the cultural norm or meet all the religious duties the “religious” Pharisees expected. The Gospel came to life through Christ and as a result produced a life worthy of following. He modeled for others what it looked like to obey the Lord. He modeled pray and fasting. He modeled touching the untouchable. He modeled sitting down and eating meals wit broken families. The Apostle Paul challenged others in, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ?” Are we imitating Christ in such a way worthy of imitating by others? In order to create disciples, we must model a life that others desire to follow.
As we model the life of Jesus, we have to be intentional with the people God places in our lives. Jesus went out and asked people to follow Him. In order to create disciples, we need to be intentional with the people we do life with. Discipleship is not limited to a class or book study, but life. Making disciples includes investing in our co-workers, our classmates, and our families. One of the best ways to make disciples is to invite others into our lives. People must see us outside our churchy context and what the gospel looks like as a dad, husband, friend, etc. We cannot expect to make disciples if we just show up to church a couple times a week and do a study together. That might be a good first step, but discipleship needs to happen outside the walls of the church participating life on life, digging in God’s Word together.
The entire purpose of making disciples is for those disciples to make more disciples. Multiplying is the pattern and reason the early church flourished. As Jesus poured into the small group of 12 guys, 300 years later Christians made up 10 percent of the population, approximately 6 million. As we model our lives after Jesus and pour into the lives of a few, we must challenge those disciples to repeat the process to others. When it is time, we must challenge others to live out the Great Commission. We must go and make. Our mission as believers is to reach and go.
Are you modeling, making, and multiplying? If not, please rethink your investment into others. Don’t complicate loving on people with grace. It is simple…be intentional with your relationships. That’s it. Jesus’ last words were to go and make disciples, not tons of programs, not events, not big buildings, but disciples. In order for lives to be changed, we must change our view of discipleship.