You want to make disciples because it was Jesus’ last command and one of the most important expressions of love you could show to another human being. I cannot think of a more important focus.
Disciple making is to help a person place his or her faith in Jesus Christ (evangelism, conversion) and then to help him or her form their life around Jesus–becoming more and more like him (sanctification, maturation). Disciple making includes both parts.
There are four essentials when you are discipling a person – 1) the Word of God, 2) the people of God, 3) the Spirit of God, and 4) the Mission of Jesus. You must rely on all four.
I call them the four disciple making essentials.
The Word of God – scripture is vitally important. We cannot objectively know the truths we need to know about God and how we are to obey him apart from scripture.
-Scripture (The Word) is the theme of our National Disciple Making Forum (click here for more)
But, too many churches and leaders over-emphasize scripture and knowledge (at the expense of other elements).
The People of God – relationships are essential in disciple making. Jesus’ method, above all, was relational. In the gospels he was with his disciples–walking, talking, experiencing—most of the time. So, like Jesus, we must engage in meaningful relationships with those we are discipling so that we can relate to them, love them, teach them scripture and help them to obey it in practical ways.
But relationships and scripture are not enough.
The Spirit of God – is the ultimate agent of transformation in disciple making. Scripture teaches us that it is the Spirit who convicts a person of sin and draws that person to place his or her faith in Jesus (John 16:7-11; 1 John 2:20-27). And then God tells us that the power that brings change in discipling relationships is the Holy Spirit, who transforms us from one degree of glory into the other, as we become more and more like Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
But, if all we have is 1) the Word of God, 2) the People of God, and 3) the Spirit of God, something is still missing.
The Mission of Jesus – is the intentionality factor that grounds discipling relationships in purpose, forethought, and strategy. Every disciple and every potential disciple needs someone to guide them, to disciple them. They need someone who knows what Jesus meant when he told us that it is up to us to “make disciples.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Intentionality is to be purposive, to know where we are guiding someone. Many do not realize that God will partner with us in disciple making. He seeks to redeem the world as we co-labor with him–that is why he teaches us to make disciples. (Colossians 1:28; Galatians 3:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:18-19)
So, examine the disciple making strategy you are using in your discipling relationships. I call it your micro disciple making method. You must include each of these four elements for holistic and effective disciple making–do not neglect any one of them…
And, join us for the 2023 National Disciple Making Forum in Indianapolis (April 26 & 27, 2023) so that you can learn more about how to apply these four disciple making essentials, as you learn more about disciple making with others in our disciple making tribe (click here for more).