What is disciple making?
by Daniel Ausbun, First Baptist Church, Moreland
Before Jesus ascended to heaven He told the 11 disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).
What does this mean? How is someone in Moreland, Georgia supposed to make disciples of all nations? Unfortunately disciple making is regarded as an eight-week study filling in the missing word. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Discipleship isn’t an offer that man makes to Christ.”
Disciple making is the most time-consuming, hardest, and most productive work a Christian can engage in.
Every person who has ever lived is a disciple. The word disciple means “learner or student.” Jesus warned us to be careful whom we follow because we’ll become like our leader. Frequently we confuse discipleship with knowledge. Having knowledge of the Gospel will either condemn us or change us. When you begin to change because of your knowledge of Christ, discipleship begins. Salvation includes transformation. This is why an unrepentant sinner can’t say he’s a Christian and actually be saved.
I believe when someone reads their New Testament they’ll see that the normal Christian and the healthy church is one involved in making disciples. There seems to be a lie that only mature people are disciples. Church activities, church involvement, giving money or serving in leadership positions doesn’t equate disciple making.
Only disciples can make disciples.
If we’re not making disciples, are we really disciples? Satan is pleased when he hears the Word of God preached but not obeyed. Christians can talk about disciple making but not actually do it. James 1:22 warns us, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” You can’t ask someone to make disciples whom isn’t a disciple.
How does a Christian make disciples? The three D’s serve as a guide:
• Deliver them. Through the power of Christ, we are delivered from sin. When someone is saved, they step into a relationship with God. Disciple making involves sharing the Gospel.
• Develop them. By the discipling process we are developed into mature believers. The spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, and church attendance lead to Christian growth.
• Deploy them. Finally God deploys us into the harvest field to reach others and begin the disciple making process. Every believer is called to this disciple making model. Christ wants to see sinners saved, grow and then go.
Jesus had an intentional strategy. He invested in 12 men. He had a goal in mind.
He wanted the disciples to carry on His teachings and become leaders in the early church. The ministry of Jesus was investing in His disciples. He knew He was dying for the sins of the world. He knew He would be raised from the dead. He had to prepare others to carry the message.
If reproduction isn’t happening in a Christian’s life, something is wrong. There should be a marked difference between a person who has the spirit of God compared to someone who’s lost. There’s a cost for discipleship, yet even a greater cost for non-discipleship.
The best way to see revival and change in America is the return to discipleship. Investing in others, teaching them biblical truths and expecting them to reproduce will establish a growing army of Christ-followers.
God will take all of your victories, defeats and life experiences and mold you into a disciple. With God nothing is ever wasted. Disciple making is simply helping someone find and follow Jesus.