I must confess that we were wrong. For the past five years at HCC we have taught, preached and ministered with an imperfect objective. Now, please don’t get too alarmed! We haven’t promoted anything unbiblical, carnal or self-serving. We faithfully taught God’s Word and challenged our people to become disciples. We even dared them to become disciples. You may ask, “What is wrong with that? That certainly sounds biblical enough?” Our error was not in what we taught, but where we concluded.
Let me explain what I mean. In the process of systematically teaching Scripture and pushing our people towards biblical discipleship, we mistakenly concluded that Bible knowledge, personal holiness and spiritual maturity were the culmination of the believer’s journey. Now, don’t get me wrong, those three ingredients are extremely important. BUT, there is one significant factor that we missed – Real disciples make disciples. To say it a different way, we emphasized the first part of Great Commandment (love God i.e. Bible knowledge, spiritual maturity) and sacrificed the second part of the great commandment and the great commission (love neighbor/make disciples). Jesus said it this way…
Matthew 6:19 – Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.
John 15:2 – Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit.
John 15:8 – By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Paul taught the same truth…
II Timothy 2:2 – And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
With those verses in mind, we are going to refocus what we do. We will still systematically teach the Bible, push people towards discipleship and emphasize holiness and spiritual maturity, but with the purpose of making disciples who will reproduce what Jesus is doing in them, in the lives of others.
Here are a few simple thoughts…
- The command to make disciples is for everyone
Please remember that the Lord’s final command was to go and “make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19). Too often, the Great Commission is treated as if it were a mandate exclusively for pastors, missionaries or believers with the gift of evangelism. That simply is not the case. EVERY believer has been called to make disciples.
David Platt in the introduction to the book Multiply by Francis Chan echoed that thought saying, “From the start, God’s design has been for every single disciple of Jesus to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples.” No believer is excluded from this task.
- Disciple making is not complicated
Sadly, I am afraid that we have understood making disciples to be biblical instruction or some type of systematic discipleship class. Such and interpretation naturally eliminates many who do not have the gift of teaching or do not have a deep understanding of Scripture. Although, biblical understanding is necessary for one to become a believer and a disciple (Romans 10:17), a disciple maker does not have to be a Bible teacher. As a matter of fact, often the best disciplers are just ordinary believers.
- You can make disciples!
As we stated above, disciple making doesn’t require a theological degree or an ordination certificate. Anyone can be a disciple maker. Here are few simple steps that you can follow to help you fulfill God’s disciple making plan.
- Begin with the people you know
Often we view evangelism and discipleship as awkwardly reaching out to someone we do not know. Obviously, there are times that we should share our faith with strangers, but the greatest opportunity for disciple making is with those who we know the best. God has placed you in a family, in a job environment and with friends for a purpose. They are potential disciples of Jesus.
- Spend time with them
Simply speaking, one of the best tools for discipleship is companionship. By that I mean that spending time with the person you are discipling is one of the best ways to influence their life with the Gospel. Jesus understood this principle. Mark 3:14 states, “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.” In other words, Jesus selected the Twelve Disciples to spend time with Him.
For 3 1/2 years Jesus and His disciples spent an incredible amount of time together. They traveled together, ate together, relaxed together, conversed together and ministered together. It was their time with Jesus that confirmed their faith in His person and mission. The truth is that you and I can only influence a person’s life in direct proportion to the amount of time that we spend with them.
- Live out the principles of the Gospel
In I Corinthians 11:1 Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul’s godly demeanor, patient reactions, and persistent faith were a powerful example to all around him. Therefore, he could encourage others to imitate the changes that the Holy Spirit was producing in him. That, my friends, is the best way to disciple.
How about you? Are you living in a way that points others to Jesus? Do your vocabulary, attitude and actions naturally demonstrate the truths of the Gospel? Who do you know that you can begin to spend time with, prayer with and encourage in their spiritual walk? Let’s not only be passionate followers of Jesus, but let’s be committed to be disciples that make disciples.