How Jesus Made Disciples

Google discipleship and you’ll find 8,910,000 results. Google disciple-making and you’ll find about half that, 4,200,000 results. Needless to say, there is a lot that is being said and a lot that is being written about discipleship. Where does one start?

When we hear the word discipleship, what comes to mind? If we’re honest, I think most of us think about curriculum. What kind of discipleship curriculum do you use? Is there a “magic curriculum” out there that will really help me get results? Or maybe we think about programs. What kind of discipleship programs do you run? How have you structured your programs to get the desired results? Or maybe we think about classes? What discipleship classes do you offer to help your people grow in their faith?

The reality we must all face though is this. Curriculum doesn’t make disciples. Programs don’t make disciples. Classes don’t make disciples. Disciples make disciples.

So if we’re confused by 13,110,000 different perspectives on discipleship, maybe it’s time we simplified things and focused on just one. Jesus. What did He do? What has He modeled for us? What did Jesus mean when He commissioned us to make disciples, and how did Jesus Himself make disciples?

Jesus is our model.

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
1 John 2:6

Jesus has given us our mission.

“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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

We are to be disciple-makers.

Disciple-making is the full-orbed process of seeing people come to faith in Christ, grow in Him, and then being equipped to go back and help others repeat this process.

Disciple-making is more than discipleship… which usually defines how to help believers grow. While many terms can describe the disciple-making process, we have chosen four biblical phrases to define it:

1. “winning the lost” (I Cor 9:19)
2. “growing the believer” (Col 2:6-7)
3. “equipping the worker” (Eph 4:12)
4. “sending out proven multipliers” (John 20:21)

These priorities are also reflected in the Great Commission with the participial phrases of “going”, “baptizing”, and “teaching to obey”…, and then doing this “of all nations.”

Jesus also reflected these priorities by modeling a process of developing fully trained disciples as He challenged them to “come and see” (evangelism), “follow Me”(discipleship), “I will make you fishers of men” (equipping) and then “go and bear fruit” (multiplying).

Disciple-making is not complicated!

Disciple-making is a relational process of helping people to “follow Jesus and be like Him.” It is recognizing that people are at different stages of spiritual development and then responding appropriately to help them. It is building a ministry that does the same.

But Disciple-making is also a life-long process of becoming more like Him and helping others do the same. Because we are seeking to become like Jesus, and not just conform to a set curriculum, this is an ever deepening process. It is an ongoing process of “abiding in the vine” and allowing Him to bear fruit through us.

Developing a disciple-making ministry involves looking at both the process and product of what Jesus developed. Understanding the process Jesus modeled is extremely helpful in developing a healthy balanced movement of multiplying disciples. This is good Christology.

But don’t take my word for it. I’m just one among 13,110,000 voices. I invite you to study Jesus for yourself. This year, I’m reading through the Gospels every month, taking a deep dive into the life of Christ to learn from Jesus as my model for life and ministry. I’m blogging insights that i’m learning along the way at #likeJesus as I study a different Harmony of the Gospels each month. Let’s study Jesus together! Let’s disciple as Jesus discipled!