We are a collaborative community of men and women committed to the discipleship lifestyle – being disciples of Jesus and making disciples of Jesus.
As a part of the collaboration that discipleship.org promotes, we have identified ten disciple making affirmations that we have found to be the DNA of a disciple making movement. We share them with you so that you can catch the heart of where we are going, depending on the Lord to guide us.
1. The Gospel is our message – this Good News is focused on Jesus’ death and resurrection. All who respond to these saving events are also called to discipleship, no exceptions and no excuses (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Mark 8:34-38). The gospel we preach and believe dictates the kind of disciples we become and the kind of disciples we make. If we attempt to make a Christ-like disciple from a truncated, non-discipleship gospel we will fail [A non-discipleship gospel is one that does not include discipleship as a natural part of the message and expectation].
2. We are compelled to be and make disciples of Jesus. We believe Jesus Christ is supreme and worthy of all devotion, worship, and emulation – and disciple making is a natural and necessary life responses to Jesus. With laser focus, it was Jesus himself who made disciples who could make disciples… and then Jesus commanded us to do the same (Matthew 28:16-20, John 20:21).
3. Jesus is the model (for life and ministry). Jesus showed us how to live life and how to make disciples. We seek to emulate his method and model. As the sinless second Adam, He was man as God intended man to be. He then told us, “do what I have done” (John 14:12) and “walk as I have walked” (I John 2:6). Paul understood this when he said, “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (I Cor 11:1). Discipleship demands us to “follow” the resurrected Christ, and “imitate” the priorities and patterns of the incarnate Christ. We prefer to use the expression “Disciple Making” over “discipleship” because the former is closer to the words of the Great Commission and the latter is often mischaracterized (Matthew 28:18-20). We like the expression “Jesus’ model of disciple making,” as a summary of what we do. Why would anyone think of supplementing or deviating from Jesus’ perfect method?
4. Love is the driving motive. The Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission. Loving God and loving people is the passion behind the priority, the motive behind the mission, the heart behind the hands. Love is the signature card of true disciples… disciple making cannot happen apart from loving caring relationships… both tough and a tender love (I Thess 2). Larger ministries require more relational disciple makers to keep growing. Disciple making is relational and as ministries grow, more relational disciples are needed. “By this will everyone know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
5.Verifiable fruit is the measure. God’s agenda for each one of us is that we stay close to him and bear “fruit”, “more fruit” and then ultimately “much fruit” and “so prove to be His disciple” (John 15:8). God transforms our hearts as we “abide in him” and he leads us into lives of love (John 15:17). Jesus modeled the focus of love as he came to seek, save and disciple people (Luke 19:10; 6:40). Jesus masterfully showed how love reproduces disciples… reaching and developing his men and helping them grow from non-believers all the way to reproducing disciple makers (Matthew 28:19-20). There is a natural process of moving people from those who do not know Jesus all the way to becoming mature disciple makers … and Jesus showed the model to us. In short, we haven’t truly made a mature disciple until they are following Jesus model of love and helping make more disciples… this is fruitful multiplication.
6. The Holy Spirit power is the means. Disciples cannot be made through fleshly efforts. Jesus, in His humanity, fully acknowledged His dependence upon the Spirit. Disciple making is not just a good strategy… it is a way of life, accomplished through the fruit of the Holy Spirit living through a person’s yielded and holy life (2 Corinthians 3:16-17). If Jesus fully depended upon the Holy Spirit’s power, how can we not do any less?
7. The Church is the environment. The church exists for discipleship, and disciples are the delivery system of the Kingdom of God to the world (Colossians 1:28-29). When the church reverses this process and attempts to get the world to go to church instead of the church going to the world, the result is chaos. Pastoral and ministerial work should be evaluated and rewarded based on how many disciple makers are produced and the kind of people a church sends into the world. Jesus was a man for others, the church, likewise, is for others. Any plan that does not create disciples who live for others is a failure.
8. Equipping leaders is the lynchpin of the movement. All Christians are called to be disciples who grow to help make disciples, using the unique gifts God has given each of us. However, leaders are also called to grow a movement of disciple making…. this is called the Church (2 Timothy 2:2). How Jesus built a movement, differs from how Jesus made a disciple. If we are going to create a disciple making movement in North America… it is our conviction we must train leaders in how Jesus built a movement. This is harder and takes more time… but in the end this will bear fruit that will remain. So practically this means we must develop a team of disciple making leaders (Pastors) with various disciple making best practices (church models) who can continue to fan the flame of disciple making.
9. Definitions are Vitally Important – 1) our definition of disciple making is – helping people to trust and follow Jesus (Matt. 28:18–20), which includes the whole process from conversion through maturation and multiplication; and 2) our definition of a disciple is – a person who is following Christ, being Changed by Christ, and is committed to the mission of Christ (Matt. 4:19).
10. Scripture is our Basis – We believe the 66 books of the Bible are the authoritative, reliable, and ultimate standard for discipleship and life (2 Tim. 3:16-4:2). The Bible was written by disciples and for disciples.
Bobby Harrington is the executive director of Discipleship.org, a national forum and ministry that advocates for Jesus’ style of disciple making. He loves history, hockey, humus, movies, football, the Bible and his wife (but not in that order). Bobby has led many trips to Israel. He loves to study the Bible and go to Israel because it helps him to better trust and follow Jesus. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, in Franklin, TN). He is a Bible scholar, an experienced church planter, coach of church leaders and he is the author of several books on discipleship, see https://www.amazon.com/Bobby-Harrington/e/B01BW2QQDO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1474920593&sr=8-1 (thank you if you bought one). Bobby has studied at such places as the University of Calgary & Regent College (in Canada), Asbury Seminary, Harding School of Theology, and Princeton Theological Seminary. He has won camel races in Jordan, cliff-diving competitions near Fish Creek, Alberta, chess tournaments in Russia, and he has talked to those who have talked to Elvis (all this may not be true). He has a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his lovely wife Cindy (that IS TRUE) treasure spending time with their grown children, their spouses, and their grandchild. Contact Bobby at [email protected]
Bobby, along with Todd Wilson of the Exponential Network, founded Discipleship.org because they want to develop a central place for people to go when they need information and valuable tools that will help them live out the discipleship lifestyle.