I love the word Discipleship! It is probably one of my favorite words in all of the world, not because I am a nerdy church kid with a cliché answer to “what is your favorite word?” No, I love the word because of the implications of the actual term, if carried out in practice. It is a weighty word that the most famous man in history told his disciples in Matthew 28. It is a word that stings, convicts, sharpens, and provokes thought. So why do I love it so much? This is a word I had never heard until I was fifteen years old, still wondering around aimlessly not knowing how to walk the Christian life. My growth was never a forward motion but a standstill. My youth pastor at the time, Steve Spence, came to me one day and told me that he wanted to pour into me. He wanted to invest his time and effort to disciple me, to which I respond: “Yea of course! But what do you mean disciple me?” Foreign to this term, I had a lot of questions, but Steve never gave me a formal definition. He just showed me. He invited me, with a few other guys, to weekly read God’s word and memorize Scripture. Steve came to my basketball games, we played ball on Sunday nights, and I heard Steve preach on Wednesday nights at the youth service. This dude would invite me to his house to do yard work, spend time with his kids, and eat great meals. Steve would take me and the guys on camping trips. The man just knew how to pour into people with the gospel of Jesus. He would hold us accountable for sin in our lives and challenge us where we needed to be challenged. I wanted to be like this guy. I wanted to inspire like him. I wanted to equip people like him. I wanted to preach like him. I then had this “Aha!” moment: This is discipleship! This is what Jesus did with his crew! Jesus invited them in and said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” in Matthew 4:19. Jesus invested in these men, poured his life into them, taught them important life lessons, and taught what it meant to be his disciple. When Steve took me in, this is exactly what he was doing. This changed my life forever.
So what is a disciple? A disciple is a follower who submits to the authority of Jesus. One who accepts Jesus’ principles and teachings and assists in spreading the good news of the gospel. This is what Jesus calls us as Christians to do. It’s who we should be. Matthew 28:18-20 says (emphasis mine), “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, TEACHING them to OBSERVE ALL that I have commanded. And behold, I am with you ALWAYS, to the end of the age.’” I think one of the most amazing things about this term and truth is the example Paul gives us with his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy. Paul took the calling seriously to equip the saints for good work, and he planted churches and preached the gospel constantly while also pouring into to people. Paul in Acts chapter 16:3 asks Timothy to accompany him in his ministry. Paul invested so much time and effort into Timothy that he was able to leave him as a pastor of the church in Ephesus. Later, Paul writes two letters, now known as 1 and 2 Timothy, to his young “son.” There was this mentor-ship between Paul and Timothy that is so inspiring to me. It’s a model I think we should all adopt. We, as Christians, should desire to be equipped by wiser men and women and also continue this legacy to those younger than us. This is what Steve Spence did for me, and I am forever grateful. I want to continue this legacy. I want to continue the forward motion of discipleship.
In sharing my love for discipleship and the story of how it changed my life and inspired me to do the same, I wanted to give you six practical ways to approach and create a strategy on how to make disciples.
1.Initiate: Be intentional in who you pursue to disciple.
a. Acts 16:3 “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany Him..”
2. Engage: Interact with this person(s) always. *Open your world to them*
a. Jesus opened his world to his disciples when he said “Follow me, I will make you fishers of men.” This is essential. No matter what time of the morning your disciple calls you, no matter what pain they are in or how impatient you get with them, these people are in your world.
3. Develop a Plan: Take time and pray about the plan you want to do with the person(s) you disciple.
ii. Book of the Bible
iii. A video Series
iv. A Year through the Bible
4. Meet: This should be a scheduled time, weekly meet up.
a. This is essential but not the whole.
5. Walk with them: In ALL aspects of Life. James 5:15-16
a. Great Questions to ask for personal Accountability.
i. When’s the last time you spent intimate time with Jesus? If not why? How can I help you? If so, what does that time look like?
ii. How often are you sharing the gospel with people?
iii. When’s the last time you looked lustfully upon someone? How emotionally involved are you with someone of the opposite sex with whom you are not married?
iv. What is blocking your relationship with Christ? How can get rid of any weights or hindrances that stunt your growth? —-Hebrews 12:1-2
6. Multiply: Challenge them, when they are ready (if not a Christian), to disciple others. Challenge the believer to continue to disciple others to reproduce believers.
“Discipleship without reproduction is not discipleship” –Robby Gallaty
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts: 18
Remember this: Discipleship requires: Passion for Jesus, Persistence in our pursuit, Patience with where people are at in life, and Practice/Preparation in our discipline from our own walk to help others walk.
May we as followers of Christ carry the banner of discipleship in a forward motion.