From the beginning, Jesus told the disciples that He would make them into something different: “Come, follow me,…and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Their occupation of catching fish changed into a mission of fishing for people. Each step along the way, Jesus taught them to share with others, connect people to God, and minister to those who were in need.
When a disciple matures into a spiritual adult, the Holy Spirit brings them through a heart change:
- They move from self-centered to others-centered
- They become God-centered in motivation
- They have the desire to serve and lead
As you see the person you are discipling begin displaying these signs of heart change, you need to give them an opportunity to serve.
Jim Putman, author of this blog, is one of the speakers at this year’s National Disciple Making Forum. Learn more and register here.
Jesus used everyday opportunities to train his disciples to serve and minister to others. One place in scripture where we can see an example of Jesus’ intentional leadership is in the feeding of the five thousand.
Read through John 6:1-13 and notice all the times Jesus had his disciples minister to the people during this event.
During this miracle, the disciples were learning about ministry as well as learning about who Jesus was. Jesus modeled intentional actions in His relationships with people. He gave the disciples hands-on experience in learning to care for others. He didn’t just have them sit back and watch Him meet peoples needs – he got them actively involved in ministering to the people around them.
So what are some places we can give the people we are discipling an opportunity to serve? If you personally serve in a ministry, one of the best things you can do is have them serve alongside you. It might not turn out to be a long-term fit as far as skill or ability goes, but serving alongside someone they know and are comfortable with will help set them up for initial success. As they become comfortable getting involved and realize the value of serving, they will be better able to look at different areas they might be equipped for.
If you are unable to find a spot for them in to serve in your church, consider inviting them along when you are serving outside of weekend services. For instance, if you are going to visit someone who is in the hospital – or helping a shut-in with yard work, invite them to come along and help. If there is an activity going on in your community that you are volunteering to help with, see if they would like to get involved. In the area I live in, we have marathons a few time a year and they need people to man the water stations and cheer people on. It is a great place to jump in and love on our community, and it makes an impression on people. Ministry doesn’t only happen in a church building.
Releasing your disciple to minister to others is an imperative part of helping them become disciple makers, and it requires you to be intentional as a leader. You need to know where the people you are discipling are in their spiritual growth and know where you are taking them.
Below are 6 things Jesus did with his disciples to prepare them for ministering to others:
- Jesus brought them to a place/situation where there were others who were in need.
- Jesus had given them real teaching prior to this point.
- Jesus connected them to God and to each other.
- Jesus had equipped them and released them to do ministry
- Jesus shared truth that was new to them.
- Jesus modeled discipleship to them as they were all together
Jesus taught to and modeled for his disciples, fully expecting them to reach the point that they could make disciples independently. Disciples will always be dependent on God, that is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit when he left them. But Jesus led his disciples to become spiritually mature disciples who were able to make more disciples. And we are disciples today because it worked.
Written by Jim Putman
This was originally posted on Jim Putman’s blog here. Used with permission.