If we are going to be a disciple making church, a church who obey Christ’s Great Commission, a church who go, baptise and teach, what will that require?
In Jim Putman’s book ‘Real discipleship’ he identifies three keys to making disciples;
We need an intentional leader.
We need a relational environment.
We need a reproducible process.
I want to take these three words, intentional, relational and reproducible and explore how they can help us become a disciple making church.
In any disciple making relationship there needs to be an intentional leader (don’t think pastor, position or title, but rather someone taking the initiative and taking the lead in helping someone else follow Jesus); May be someone has done that for you, but who are you doing that for?
This can be with unbelievers, but equally with those already in the church who need someone to show them what it looks like to follow Jesus or need someone to teach them more about what Jesus desires for their life.
Without the intentional leader most relationships usually remain at a superficial level and just drift along without any real spiritual progress or purpose, so someone has to take a lead. However, you can be as intentional as you like, but if the person you are seeking to disciple doesn’t want to grow, it wont work. There has to be a desire and a willingness on the part of the disciple to be discipled.
Who are you taking the initiative with? Where are you acting as the intentional leader in disciple making? Who’s looking to you for help and wisdom? Who’s learning from you about what it means to follow Jesus?
We should have at least one person we are doing that for?
There needs to be a relational context if disciple making is going to be effective.
Relationships serve as the most significant vehicle through which our lives are most powerfully impacted. I would imagine it is much easier for you to call to mind people and relationships that have impacted your life over and above sermons or experiences?
I’m not saying that sermons and significant experiences in life are not important, but without relationships to ground those things in, then the impact will always be minimal. Jesus taught the crowds but the ones that were most impacted and transformed by his ministry were the disciples that he shared his life most fully with. And if Jesus could only do that with a few, we cannot expect to be any different.
This is why the church needs all the saints doing works of ministry, discipling others, sharing our lives intentionally with a few, so that more and more people are helped in the most effective way to follow Jesus.
The priority is a relationship over a program, the priority is a longer term process of journeying with someone, over inviting them to a one time event. Don’t delegate to a program what God has given you responsibility to deliver; that life on life discipleship.
Who can you get alongside to start investing in more intentionally?
Disciple making needs to be something that everyone can do, not just assigned to a program that can only be run by the gifted.
If tomorrow God gave you the privilege of leading someone to Christ, what is your plan over the next 6 months to help disciple them and walk with them on this journey? What are you going to do? My guess is that most of us probably don’t have a plan, which reveals one of three things;
Firstly, we are not planing on leading anyone to Christ anytime soon? Which is not a good thing.
Secondly, we’re planning on leading people to Christ and then leaving them to figure out the rest on their own?
Or thirdly, we’re expecting and hoping that the Church will do what God’s given us opportunity & responsibility to do?
So what’s your plan? How would you go about discipling someone you’ve just led to Christ? or if I said to you, this person is new to church and faith can you take them under your wing? What would you do?
Does that thought fill you with fear? Does that prospect leave you wondering what on earth you would do? Would you just ask them to come along to church and hope things work out for them?
We need to realise that God wants us to take responsibility for others, especially if we‘ve already had the privilege of introducing them to Jesus in the first place. But even if it’s not new believers, what’s your plan to help someone else follow Jesus? Someone already in the church. What would you do? What will you do?
Here are a few things to think about in making disciples who make disciples.
There will need to be some focused and regular time together for one to one, or small group input and encouragement. Without that intentional focus, spiritual momentum & growth will be difficult to foster.
But there will also need to be some open and irregular time together, for the sharing of your life with someone else. We need the ordered and organic.
Jesus had focused and deliberate times of teaching his disciples, but he also shared life with them.
We need to create space in our lives, and in our schedules in order to make disciples.
The problem is we too easily fill our lives up with so many other things, that are largely self-serving, for our own enjoyment or for our kids, or for our own material betterment, so we work longer and harder, and we never have time to invest in any disciple making relationships. we’re too busy, often with a lot of stuff that at the end of the day doesn’t really matter.
Which of us could give time once a week to help a new believer grow as a disciple of Jesus?
We need time and space, without these two commodities, no disciple making is ever going to happen. Maybe some of us need to reconsider our schedules and priorities to prepare us for realignment with the priority of Christ?
Now, let’s say we have space and we have time, and we’re investing in a relationship and we can meet regularly once a week for focused disciple making time; what would we do?
What do you do in the focused and regular time together?
Use the Bible, use a Discipleship resource, use a good Christian book, and facilitate a learning and growing opportunity.
It might be as simple as you inviting someone into your daily devotional time. Show them what you do, walk with them through how you connect with God each day. And maybe for some of us the responsibility of discipling someone else would be the motivation to kick start your own renewed growth?
Why not agree to read through, or work through, a particular book or discipling tool that will help give real focus to your time together. In this way you won’t be meandering around aimlessly, but you’ll have a clear plan and a concrete resource that will help channel conversation and growth in Christ.
There are so many good tools out there that can easily be used by any disciple of Jesus to help disciple someone else.
The beauty with using a ready made resource is that anybody can pick it up. Preparation is minimal, you don’t have to know everything, in fact, you’ll be learning along with your disciple. Also, having a resource gets people reading and thinking outside of your meet ups, and it creates a start and finish date, so the discipleship process is not lingering on for months and months with people wondering if this is ever going to end?
Share concerns and needs, pray together and pray for those you’re wanting to reach out to together. Prayer is such a simple tool to use in discipling others. It roots them in dependence upon God, and it is the best way to show love, support and encouragement, and learn about where people are at. Make prayer a priority.
Ask questions. Questions about your disciples spiritual health? Questions about family, work and physical health? What’s God saying to you right now? What are you going to do about that? What might get in the way of you doing that? How can I help you with that? What’s your spiritual, emotional and physical energy tank registering right now? And don’t forget to listen attentively and lovingly to their answers.
Jesus was so clear that hearing and knowing the word is not enough, we have to be doing it. James says do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself, do what it says (James 1:22).
If the disciple is going to grow then he or she will have to take action on what they are learning, and respond to what you are showing them. So you have to be willing to follow up discussions and learning by asking how things are working out in practice.
For example; “we talked about prayer last week and you were going to try and start each day with 5 minutes of prayer and thanksgiving, hows that going? Hard, easy, encouraging?”
Some of the best disciple making moments will come when you are serving alongside someone else; when you are doing a good deed together, when you are serving in ministry together, when you are picking up litter, painting a fence, serving tea & coffee? When you are active in the mission of Christ you will find opportunities to disciple for Christ. So don’t miss those opportunities.
Are you ready? Becoming a disciple who makes disciple’s is well within your grasp?
This is our mandate, may God realign us with his heart and mission.
Post by: Martin Coleman