Friday, April 12, 2013


Now that we’ve defined the problem with discipleship in the church today, let’s think about how to actually make disciples in obedience to Jesus.

First of all, if being a disciple is actually just being a Christian, then discipleship isn’t something you can learn in a class or a course of study that you’ll graduate from after you go through the workbook. It’s not a program, it’s a life that must be lived.

Discipleship to Jesus is simply following Him daily. So, obviously, you’ll have to start with knowing what it was that Jesus taught. That means reading the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and/or John. It means taking the words of Jesus seriously. It means trusting Him daily to teach you Himself about how to love and forgive and serve and everything else.

So, if we hope to make disciples as Jesus commanded, then we first must become followers of Jesus ourselves. Then we can help others learn how to follow Jesus too.

The next thing we must learn to do, and then learn to teach others how to do, is to listen for the voice of Jesus in our daily life. This means spending time in prayer, and not just talking to God about what we want or need, but also listening for His voice. Jesus said that his sheep could hear his voice. If we are his sheep we will hear his voice and over time we will learn to discern what he is saying to us.

Discipleship is a long process. It will take you the rest of your life. You will not graduate from discipleship training, ever. Discipleship is your life in Christ which starts today and carries on into eternity.

Most importantly, do not ask people to follow you. Instead, teach them to follow Jesus. You can't save anyone, nor are you capable of changing their hearts, or leading them where Jesus wants to take them. Neil Cole shared an insightful testimony of his days as a young lifeguard here in California. He said he learned not to try to save drowning people himself. If you let them cling to you then you'll both drown. Instead, he learned to hand them the life preserver ring and stay at arms length away from them. Eventually they would stop struggling and allow the life ring to keep them afloat. Then you could pull them safely to shore. Teaching people to cling to Jesus for life is no different. If you let them cling to you, they will become dependent on you. If you let them cling to Jesus, they'll thrive.

As you might guess, this isn’t something you accomplish through a class. It’s something you accomplish by walking alongside Jesus daily, and if you hope to disciple others, then you must be willing to walk alongside those people for the long haul, too. This means being there for them when they have questions, or face challenges, or make mistakes, or when they learn from their mistakes or get it right and need someone to share the joy. But, again, make sure to show them how to depend on Jesus, and not on you.

Truthfully, this is better accomplished in community. In other words, the church family should all work together to encourage the new disciples whenever they gather. They should also disciple one another as often as possible. Why? Because we all need to be discipled. We all need encouragement when we feel weak. We all need comfort when we screw up. We all need wisdom when we are confused about what to do next. We all need one another, and we all need to continually refer one another back to Jesus.

That’s one of the main functions of the ekklesia – to make, inspire, encourage, and train disciples to cling to Jesus.  It’s often expressed as the “one anothers” in the New Testament.

Belief alone is not enough. Demons believe. But disciples obey, and trust, and love Jesus with all of their heart and they daily take up their cross to follow Him into the Kingdom way of life.

So, what are you waiting for? Start following Jesus today, and help others to follow Him as well. That’s called making disciples. It couldn’t be more simple than that.


"There is absolutely nothing in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught that suggests you can decide just to enjoy forgiveness at Jesus' expense and have nothing more to do with him."  - Dallas Willard ("The Divine Conspiracy")

1 comment:

the alternative1 said...

excellent post I got a print on it and will be meditating it--thanks