WHAT IS A DISCIPLE?
To make disciples is part of the great commission command and it must be obeyed by the followers of Jesus.
Before we can learn to make disciples we must first understand the difference between a disciple and church member.
The term "disciple" is the same thing as "an apprentice".
An apprentice is someone who is being trained or equipped by someone that is more experienced or seasoned in their walk with God.
Discipleship is all about LIFE and its formation in a person.
It is not about cramming a lot of information into a person's brain.
Being an disciple of Jesus is about the formation of His life within you and not about going to discipleship classes or reading a book about discipleship or studying a discipleship training manual.
We are to make disciples the same way Jesus taught his disciples -- after all, where can you find a better Teacher to use as your example.
The question that we need to answer is relatively simple.
HOW DID JESUS TRAIN HIS DISCIPLES?
He spent TIME with them.
During the time they were together Jesus lived the lifestyle in front of them.
He took them with Him everywhere He went, they ate together, they watched Jesus heal people, deliver people from demons, and teach people about the kingdom of God.
Jesus simply used every available opportunity to share with them principles of the kingdom lifestyle in His actions of making disciples.
You could say that Jesus believed that discipleship is something that is caught not taught when you make disciples.
As they spent time together, His disciples simply grew in their understanding of the kingdom and how to operate within it.
Jesus taught these men by letting them observe Him doing something and then giving them a command to go do likewise.
This experience equipped and prepared them to be able to accomplish His command that we call the great commission.
Everything in this commission they had already been prepared for or had experienced.
They were now ready and able to fulfill it.
MATTHEW 28:19-20 -- "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and low I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Most of the time Jesus trained these men by giving them commands to go do something.
There were times when they had been commanded to go out and preach the gospel, they themselves were being discipled by Jesus and therefore had the experience of how to make disciples themselves, they were experienced in water baptism, and they were able to teach others to observe what Jesus had commanded them.
This gives you an idea or an example of how to go about discipling somebody yourself.
Always keep in mind the people you make disciples, the people you are working with, are not yours .
You are the equipper that is training this person to be a disciple of Jesus under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
As the Holy Spirit teaches you, you in turn, teach others.
This same principle for discipling people was also used by the apostle Paul as he discipled Timothy.
2 TIMOTHY 2:2 -- "And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also."
Do you see the progression here?
Jesus taught Paul, Paul taught Timothy, Timothy taught faithful men, the faithful men taught others.
This is how we are to make disciples.
LOOK AT THE EXAMPLE OF RAISING A FAMILY
Whenever Jesus taught a principal to his disciples he always related it to something that they understood naturally.
For example, He related the relationship that he was to have with his followers as the same relationship a branch has with a vine.
The life is in the vine, but because the branch is attached to the vine the same life that is in the vine flows into the branches. (John 15:1-11)
To learn how to train disciples look at the natural example of raising a family.
How does the father train his children?
After all, doesn't a father train his children to be able to function in a society?
The father has a responsibility to equip his children to be able to do the things that are necessary to function effectively in the culture.
Now it may sound silly because some of these things are so simple.
Let's look at some of the things that a father, or mother, does to train the children.
The making of disciples is very similar to raising children.
You are the father, or the more experienced one.
The disciple is the child.
He has just been born into the family and now he needs to be trained and equipped how to function in that family.
When a natural father causes a child brought into this world he has the responsibility to raise that child.
When you lead someone into an encounter with Jesus and they become "born-again" into the kingdom of God you should take the responsibility of being a father to that new life that has just been added to the family of God.
Paul told some of his disciples the same thing when he said to them, "You may have many teachers, but I am your father in the Lord."
When a parent trains a child, or makes disciples, they do it in natural life settings, not in a classroom in the home.
You train the child to eat properly at the dinner table, you train them to tie their shoes when the opportunity arises, etc.
To make disciples we do it as the opportunities present themselves.
For example, have times of prayer together and teach them to pray simply by talking to God as a close friend at any time of the day; share meals together and possibly talk about what the "covenant meal" (communion) is; go visit the sick together and train the disciple how to pray for the sick, etc.
To make disciples should occur in natural everyday situations when the opportunities arise.
WHAT ARE WE TO TEACH THESE DISCIPLES?
If we look at the modern church it seems like the art of making disciples is not functioning very well at all.
I blame this on the institutional church system wherein people go to Bible school or Bible college are trained how to preach sermons and to be administrators, but not how to be makers of disciples unto Jesus.
This is a tragedy.
The Holy Spirit has to be your Teacher as you learn to make disciples of the Lord Jesus.
He will lead you and and tell you what your disciples need at the time they need it.
But there are some basic concepts that all believers and followers of Jesus need to learn. Such as:
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There are many other things that I could put on this list, but our job as disciplers is to effectively train them to hear the voice of God and then to be obedient.
When we do this job, the Holy Spirit will then lead them into all the truth that they will need to successfully walk with their God.
There will come a time when we are working with these people that we will have gone as far as we can go in their training and at that time we release them to go and fulfill their destiny with God because they have now been prepared to go and make disciples too.
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Rob Board Ministries
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