The last few years, several people have asked me exactly how I go about making disciples.
I began following Jesus during my sophomore year of college. For the last 15 years, I’ve carried on the example of those who discipled me by leading other people to Jesus and training them to be disciples who make other disciples. Many of these people now span the world, following Jesus as businessmen, church planters, pastors, youth workers, musicians, teachers, dads and moms.
Jesus was really into miracles. (He did a lot of them.) He was even more into training a core group of leaders (disciples) who would carry on the same lifestyle, power, and love He showed.
“Go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey
everything I’ve commanded you.” – Jesus
Revivals and outpourings of the Holy Spirit – even those accompanied by signs, wonders, and miracles – only produce temporary wonderment and awe if the hearts, habits, and homes of people aren’t transformed by simple ways to follow Jesus and experience Him in everyday life.
Watch this cool two-minute video to get a sense for why Jesus was so clear about making disciples:
So what is discipleship? I’ll attempt a short definition here:
Discipleship is the transfer of life, power, and skills from one person to another.
Here are a few steps I’ve taken over the years as I’ve made disciples. I hope this helps you become a disciple-maker!
1. Look for people to disciple. I look for people who are good candidates in whom to invest time and energy. Jesus did this. He showed love everywhere – but he was quite specific with whom He invested the bulk of his energy, training, and time. The ones Jesus chose were ordinary people – untrained by the religious system of the day. I usually pick non-Christians (I lead them to Jesus first) OR a young believer who is teachable and wants to learn.
2. Ask them to be your disciple. “Jesus…chose those whom He wanted.” Ok, I don’t exactly say, “Will you be my disciple?” It sounds weird. I tell prospective disciples the potential I see in them. I ask them if they’d like to build a deeper relationship, learning how to grow in their gifts, get closer with Jesus, and become more effective in leading others to Him.
A few months ago, I met with a young believer named Josiah. I told him, “I see a lot of leadership potential in you. I’d like to spend more time with you, teaching you what I know and helping you to become a leader who can lead others to Jesus. Would you like this?” He enthusiastically said, “Yes!” Since then, he’s grown a lot in character and faithfulness. He’s also led four other people to Jesus and helped grow a new simple church on his campus. (Read a crazy story about his demon-possessed roommate meeting Jesus here.)
3. Communicate expectations. I ask everyone I disciple to commit to five basic practices:
- Spend time with God daily, reading Jesus’ words and praying
- Live sexually and morally pure
- Build a closer relationship with me, making time to be together
- Fellowship with other disciples
- Intentionally try to lead others to Jesus and teach them to be disciples
4. Build your relationship. I meet with those I disciple. I build a relationship with them. I encourage them throughout the week. I ask them if they’re living out their five commitments they agreed to (above). We talk. We pray. I encourage them to get back on track when they’re failing. We read the Bible together, sharing what Jesus has been showing us this week. I try to have them over to my house to see how I live; how my wife and I love each other; how I treat my kids; how I do ministry. It’s not just about listening to me give sermons – it’s life transfer. Jesus told His disciples, “You’ll do even greater works than I do.” I tell my disciples, “You’re gonna do great things. You’re gonna be a great dad. A great husband. A great leader. You’re gonna go farther than me.” That’s the heart of a disciple maker that Jesus showed us.
If you’ve followed Jesus for even a little while, you already have so much inside you to offer people. You may not even realize how powerful you are! All you gotta do is offer yourself – give your time, energy, and love to those who are hungry to learn.
Don’t worry about getting everything perfect. Don’t let your own shortcomings hold you back from loving others and helping them grow as disciples of Jesus. I learn by spending time with people I’m discipling.
Try following the steps I outlined above – or tweak them to fit your unique situation.
Disciples who make other disciples is Jesus’ template for changing the world. Years ago, I started telling everyone I disciple:
“Christians go to heaven. Disciples bring heaven to earth.”
So, let’s review:
— Look for people to disciple
— Ask them to be your disciple
— Communicate Expectations
— Build your relationship.
You can make disciples because Jesus is in you. Let’s change the world in 37 years!