Discipleship is a process that begins after conversion and continues throughout a believer’s life. Discipleship calls for our undivided attention and commitment to follow the commands of our Lord. Discipleship is not an option for any church or believer. Christ mandated it in the Great Commission. To disciple others is to obey our Lord’s command; to do otherwise is to disobey Him.
It becomes easy for every church’s disciple-making mission to get cluttered with lots of things to do. And most church leaders are very good at doing things. As a result, administration of programs replaces actual disciple making practices. As you look ahead to the next year, slow down and refresh your conviction for disciplemaking by looking to the Master himself.
How does a Jesus-centric disciplemaking conviction rescue you from a “program management” culture? Have you resigned to herding people through classes and events? Are you relying too much on better preaching? Or do you have a robust, disciple-making strategy built around life-on-life investment, like Jesus?
THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Disciplemaker’s Handbook, by Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick
Many people believe that discipleship is important, but they need help. In fact, the vast majority of Christians report that they have never been personally discipled by a more mature follower of Jesus. Is it any wonder that they have a difficult time knowing how to disciple others?
If making disciples of Jesus is the greatest cause on earth, how should we equip people to do it? This handbook is a practical guide for how to embrace the discipleship lifestyle – being a disciple of Jesus and how to make other disciples of Jesus.
Whether you are a parent who wants to disciple your children, a small group leader who wants to disciple those in your group, or a church leader who wants to disciple future leaders, the seven key elements in this handbook form a framework for understanding discipleship that can be applied in countless situations. In addition, there are questions provided in each section to help you think through how to apply the material to your disciple making efforts.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION
Auxano Founder Will Mancini recently recalled a conversation with Robert Coleman, author of “The Master Plan of Evangelism.” Coleman’s comment was “ The disciples were not surprised by the Great Commission.” He was clarifying that the mission to make disciples was not a new idea of a novel thought. It was what the twelve had seen modeled in every nook and cranny of life. Furthermore, every act, every event, every word of our Savior had a multiplication intent. And as a ministry leader you are reading this today, called by God and leading ministry, because his intent translated to impact.
So stop your “doing” that just “does.” Focus, prioritize and practice-until-you-master the kind of “doing” that multiplies
These seven elements are simply a framework we’ve found helpful in summarizing Jesus’ disciplemaking method, helpful for personal discipleship and teaching in a local church context.
Relationships – The central impulse for explaining Jesus’ mission to others and to make disciples is love. As John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he have his one and only Son.” By his example, Jesus showed us that disciple making is the development of genuine life-on-life relationships motivated by Jesus-style love.
Jesus – Jesus drew people to himself. He was unabashed and clear in speaking the truth. He is the centerpiece and the focus of all discipleship. We are not discipling people into a program; we are introducing them to a person. The mission of Jesus was to give himself in love for the sake of others so that people would know him, reassure him, and promote him and his message to others.
Intentionality – Jesus had a strategy. He had a plan, a road map for making disciples, what Dr. Robert Coleman calls The Master Plan. Jesus guided, coached, and developed his disciples into disciple makers and released them, commissioning them to disciple others as Jesus had discipled them. Their disciple-making work changed the world.
Bible – The Word of God is the training manual that Jesus relied upon in his ministry and provided for all discipleship and teaching. As the author of the Scriptures, Jesus has provided its contents, in both the Old and New Testaments, to give us his teaching, his correction, and his training on the important matters of life and godliness.
Spirit – Jesus’ life and ministry were fueled by the Holy Spirit. After living for thirty years in obscurity, Jesus began formally making disciples after the Spirit descended upon him when he was baptized. From that point forward, he remained in a constant state of openness to the Spirit.
Journey – Jesus led his disciples on a journey, inviting them to learn by walking with him and watching him. Though it is a disjointed growth story, it begins with his invitation to come and see and culminates with the Great Commission, where they are sent to go and multiply.
Multiply – Jesus’ master plan was to make disciples who were like him in their message and their methods, and then to multiply them by sending them out to disciple others as they had been discipled by him. Jesus teaches us to make disciples who make disciples until the end of time.
Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick, The Disciplemaker’s Handbook
A NEXT STEP
Set aside one morning or afternoon for a personal retreat. Go someplace that is out of the office and life giving. Allow yourself time to unplug and reflect on the questions around each of the seven elements of discipleship. Journal your responses to each question below.
- Why is a commitment to relationships so important in disciple making? Are you willing to make the relationship with the person(s) you are discipline a priority?
- Why is a church community important in discipling relationships?
- In what ways does a person’s understanding of Jesus and his gospel impact the kind of disciple they become?
- What is intentionality and why is it important in discipleship?
- For the discipling relationship you want, what special knowledge and skills do you need?
- In what way is Jesus central to personally knowing the Bible?
- How do we stifle or work against the Spirit?
- How do we encourage the work of the Spirit?
- Why is it important to know and understand the basic discipleship journey?
- In what way is discipleship the ongoing need of all Christians and the core mission of the church?
After this time of reflection and prayer, what would God have you to do as a result? Identify one to two next steps in your personal disciple-making journey to act on in the next seven days. After walking this road for a season, lead others from your team to do the same.
Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 77-1, released October 2017.
Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader
Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.