When King Jesus gave His soldiers the commission to make disciples, they knew exactly what to do. He had discipled them for three years, so they simply duplicated for others what the King had done them.
1. PRAYER: In all things, Jesus prayed. The
disciples began the Great Commission with ten straight days of prayer.
We know we can not successfully make disciples in our abilities. So
like King Jesus and His disciples we begin by praying.
- We ask God for the good gift of a more mature believer who will disciple us because we want to be discipled.
- We ask God to show us those who are hungry for spiritual things.
- We ask God to give us favor with someone who is spiritually hungry so we can reinvest in that person.
2. OBSERVATION: Jesus observed potential disciples before inviting them into discipleship. He met Andrew in the southern city of Bethany long before John the Baptist was imprisoned (John 1:28-40). When Jesus invited Peter and Andrew into discipleship in Mark 1:14-17, at least one of them (Andrew) was a former disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew was available for Jesus to disciple because his disciple-maker had been imprisoned.
- Like Jesus, we observe those who are hungry for truth.
- When we talk with the spiritually hungry, we watch to see if God has given us favor in their eyes.
- The spiritually hungry who listen intently to us and follow our advice are the ones with whom God has given us great favor.
3. INVITATION: After interacting with His potential disciples (jn 1:40-41), Jesus invited them to follow Him.
- When we have met with spiritually hungry people and observed God's favor in them toward us, then we offer to share with them the things God has used to strengthen us.
- We ask which day and time of the week this person can faithfully meet.
4. LIFE: Jesus offered to do more than just teach disciples. He invited them to take part in His life. As a single man in vocational ministry, Rabbi Jesus made an offer many of us cannot make: the offer to live with Him. Like Jesus though, we invite disciples into more than just teaching sessions. We invite them into our lives as much as possible.
- We share meals with our disciples.
- We invite our disciples to serve with us in the places where we serve.
- We invite our disciples to pray with us.
- We intentionally share our lives with those whom we disciple.
5. MATERIAL: Jesus retaught what He had learned from His disciple-maker. In John 8:28 He said, "I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father taught Me, I say these things." In John 12:49 He said, "I spoke not from Myself, but the Father who sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak."
- We take careful notes when learning so we can reteach our disciples the things we receive from the preachers, mentors, and disciple-makers whom God has placed in our lives.
- We study the Bible with our disciples.
- We can study edifying books in addition to the Bible with our disciples.
6. MORNINGS: Jesus retaught what He learned in the early morning hours. Isaiah 50:4-9 is one of the four "Servant songs" of Isaiah (chapters 42, 49, 50, & 52-53) which describe Jesus as God's perfect servant. In chapters 49 and 50, Jesus speaks of Himself, including 50:4 which says, "The Lord Yahweh has given Me the tongue of a disciple that I may know how to sustain the weary with words. He awakens morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as a disciple." He who "emptied Himself"(php 2:7) to take the "form of a servant" tells us in Isaiah 50:4 how He was refilled with Yahweh's words. The Father woke Him every morning to "hear as a disciple" so that He would gain "the tongue of a disciple" to strengthen the weary with words.
- Disciple-makers can follow the example of Jesus, asking God to awaken them "morning by morning" to listen as a disciple.
- Disciple-makers who listen as disciples "morning by morning" can reteach their early morning learning as "the tongue of a disciple" to strengthen the weary.
- When we teach what we have learned "morning by morning", our disciples learn by example that God can awaken them to listen as a disciple and gain the tongue of a discipler.
- We must take great caution about reteaching what we learn in solitude. Our earthly minds can twist what God is trying to teach us, so we submit our understanding to wise believers for correction. Paul told Timothy in 2Timothy 2:2 to reteach his own disciples, "The things you have heard from me among many witnesses..." Our understandings should always be submitted to the body of believers because "no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation."(2pet 1:20)
7. THE FEW: Jesus prioritized His inner circle of three men. He spoke to large groups. From those crowds, He formed a small group of twelve men who shared life with Him. From the small group, Jesus selected three (Peter, James, and John) whom He discipled with even more personal time than the rest. The pattern of His inner-three can be seen in Mark 5:37, 9:2, 13:3, and 14:33. Luke appears to have recognized the primacy Jesus gave them. Luke listed them first in Acts 1:13, even removing Peter's brother Andrew to later in the list instead of the natural manner of listing the names of brothers sequentially.
- From the crowds, we recognize about a dozen hungry and faithful believers.
- We intentionally reach out to the dozen on a regular basis to encourage them, pray for them, and share the key truths God has used to strengthen us.
- From the faithful dozen, we look for one, two, or three with whom God has given special favor.
- We go to great lengths to spend frequent time with these 1-3 persons, teaching them regularly, praying with them regularly, and holding them accountable to high calling of the faith.
- We prayerfully identify the spiritual gifts God has given these 1-3 persons.
- We invite these 1-3 to serve with us, encouraging them within a year to begin making disciples too.
- The world tells us it takes a crowd to be a successful. We follow a King who left the crowds to pour into 12 and prioritized an inner circle of three men.
Making disciples can be as simple as three words: Principle, Passage, and Person. To begin making disciples today, write down the Principle which had the biggest impact on your spiritual life. Next, write down the Passage of scripture which teaches it. When sharing this Principle and Passage with someone, be sure to add your own Personal account of how that Principle made such a difference in your life. Principle, Passage, and Person.
Being discipled is as simple as those same three words: Person, Passage, and Principle. Ask a Person whom you admire which Passage of scripture had the biggest impact on their life. Take notes on what that Person says about that Passage and what Principle they applied from it to their own lives. Jesus is my King, therefore I obey His commands, including the first great strategy of His Kingdom: "Make Disciples?"
"Seven Essentials of Discipleship" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on November 21st, 2013. All rights are reserved.