Most Christians are intimidated at the thought of personally making disciples. “I do not know enough,” they say. Or “I do not know how to do it” or “what if I am too controlling or I let someone down?” For some, they are paralyzed by the thought that they will damage people or the cause of Jesus in some way. These are big questions and concerns. Intentionality is the fundamental answer to these questions and concerns.
Intentionality is being deliberate or purposive. It is having and following a plan; it is knowing where to take people and how to help them get there. It is love expressed on a journey. Intentionality is the Spirit’s way in disciple making.
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Here are statements from a person intentionally pursuing intentionality:
- I will find the material to use in discipling relationships
- I will learn what to do by having another disciple maker show me
- I will share that I am a learner and ask those I am discipling to be gracious with me
- I will seek guidance and coaching to become as effective as I can at disciple making
- I will share my learnings with other disciple makers and keep growing.
We may not feel completely competent to make disciples, but we can learn how to become effective at it as described above..
The Master Plan
Almost 55 years ago, Robert Coleman wrote the book, The Master Plan of Evangelism. It is the gold standard on Jesus’ method of disciple making. It sold multiple millions of copies and has been translated into more than 100 languages. Many people do not grasp the nuance of the title: it is not the Masters’ plan, but the Master Plan. Jesus had a master plan; Jesus was intentional, with strategy and an end-result vision.
Intentionality is at the heart of following Jesus’ method of disciple making today. Jesus practiced it, Paul modeled it (2 Timothy 2:2), and effective practitioners today, both everyday Christians and pastors, swear by it.
Disciple making is love expressed on a journey. Jesus’ style of love is not just organic; it is also strategic. Jesus was relational and intentional. Disciple making is both with intentionality being big. Jesus was “organically intentional.” He was so brilliant at both loving people in their convoluted life situations and in disciple making, that he embodied love and intentionality simultaneously, beautifully and imperceptibly.
Let’s be like Jesus in the mission of making disciples. It is the greatest cause on planet earth.
Written by Bobby Harrington
Bobby Harrington is the Executive Director of Discipleship.org, a national platform, conference, and ministry that advocates for Jesus’ style of disciple making. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in consulting and has spent years as a coach to church planters and senior pastors. He is the author of several books on discipleship, including DiscipleShift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman) and The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick).