Practical and Foundational Steps in Making Disciples

Matthew 28:19-20:  “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.”

As I read that verse above in Matthew it takes me back to some of my previous blogs.  In my last blog, I wrote on “What does the heart of an effective disciple maker look like?” and my first blog a long time ago was “What is discipleship and what does it look like?”   But since then, I have received a lot of questions regarding discipleship like how do you disciple people? Does this count as discipleship?   Or am I even doing this right?  So in continuing on this series I am going to write three very practical, important and foundational steps in making disciples which I believe will help answer a lot of the questions I get on discipleship and how it’s done well.  I’ve seen these three steps lived and carried out in the lives of the men who have discipled myself and those whom I’ve studied like David Platt and more importantly Jesus.  Every single one of them have done these three things that will help you if you’re beginning to disciple others and aren’t sure of how should this look like.   My heart is that all of us would make disciples who make disciples as in the Great Commission of Matthew 28.  It’s not just certain people in the Body of Christ who are to do this.  We are all to make disciples and I talk to so many people who want to make followers of Christ, but the church hasn’t always done a good job of showing people how to do this because it’s not popular in our culture to carry out the task of making disciples because there’s a cost involved with this.  We will see here that the three steps below are not quick, easy or convenient.   As a matter of fact, these steps will require total surrender of your life to Christ to carry them out effectively in the lives of others.  I do not consider myself to be any kind of a “pro” at these and I still have more questions than I do answers, but I am learning by seeing these in the men I spend time with equipping me and how Jesus trained his disciples and he is our ultimate example to follow in all of this.

  1.  Coordinate-Challenge:  Jesus was always having his disciples to go and do things he commanded them to do.  He was coordinating them all along the way of their equipping to carry out the gospel.  Matthew 10:8 tells us he told the disciples: “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise thedead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”  The men who I disciple under will have me for example go preach somewhere, teach a class on a topic we study at our church, lead a bible study, goto the hospital and pray for the sick, lead and pastor a connect group.  My mentors would also go with me to do these things and help me get up and running and give me feedback on the tasks that they gave me to do and how to improve on them.  So coordinate and challenge those you disciple to go carry out the gospel and do it with them.  I’ve never been told to do anything that my mentors didn’t do as well and that speaks volumes about their integrity.  I’ve noticed that about Jesus too.  Everything He commanded he also did and did it with perfection!!  What a model to follow after.
  2. Chill and take your time:  If you really want to make disciples you can’t expect to do it in an expedient fashion.  In our world of convenience this will be the hardest one because it means essentially giving up yourself for others pouring into them and taking the necessary time to disciple them.  Going to eat with them, speak with them when they have troubles in life, study the bible with them, counsel them; It’s giving up your life for Christ and the gospel.  My two pastors who disciple me exemplify this.  One gave up his career as a very successful businessman and the other could’ve been a professional musician, but instead they’re pastoring and a lot of their time is pouring into people like me.  Pastor David Jeremiah states:  “Discipleship is crucial to our ultimate destiny, but its cost is total commitment.”  Jesus also allotted much time aside with his disciples to fellowship, spend and share his life with them.  I’ve said this often, but I’ll say it again, the men who disciple me are gracious enough to share their lives with me and in the process to show me what it means to follow Christ by their example.  That is what discipleship is and what it looks like in my life.  It’s a relationship with a teacher-mentor learning about Christ, studying, discussing, asking questions, but also sharing life, going places with that teacher-mentor, seeing how they interact with people and really seeing in their lives what it looks like to follow Christ and that takes a lot of time!  So if you really want to disciple others you will have to “chill” and take your time with them and not be in a hurry.
  3.  Correct:  None of us are perfect.  We all make mistakes and do things wrong.  Hebrews 12:5-7 says:  “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?”  I am accountable to those who disciple me and likewise those who I disciple I hold accountable because I love them.  I am always getting feedback from my mentors to really challenge me on how I treat, interact and answer my wife and daughter, those I lead, my parents, my co-workers and supervisor, my customers and especially those I encounter who I can show the love of God to make a life changing difference in their lives.  Anywhere they can help correct where they biblically see me making mistakes they do so and I welcome them to do so.  Like Hebrews 12 where God disciplines the ones he loves, so do the men who disciple me and I to those whom I disciple.  Jesus made common practice of correcting his disciples like in Luke 9 when the disciples were arguing about which among them was the greatest and Jesus told them “whoever is least among you is the greatest.”  I have gained much character in the form of humility and discipline taught to me through correction of my mentors and I am truly thankful for every bit of it!  Hold those you disciple accountable through loving correction in their mistakes to help them grow.

Those three steps are again practical and foundational in making disciples.  They’re not easy or quick, but the joy of the journey in them is beyond anything money can buy and the benefits are eternal!  The Great Commission isn’t for just a select few, but for all of us who have committed our lives to Christ.  In Matthew 28 Jesus was pretty convincing as he stated – “all power and authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me” and then he goes right into…”make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and also to teach them to obey everything.”  Jesus didn’t say, “some things” but he said, “everything I have commanded you.”  This is for everyone so we’re all in this together as the Body of Christ and if Jesus commanded it than he will empower it if we’ll be obedient to do it.

Alex Fulton
Discipleship Pastor
NCWC

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