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 you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
There are two things that you will always hear me talking about as being the most important work of the Church. The first is prayer, and equal to that is discipleship. Why discipleship? First and foremost as we can see from Matthew 28 Jesus commands that we make disciples. These verses, known as the Great Commission, leave no doubt to the fact that disciple making is not optional. Unfortunately many churches have become sidetracked and they have forgotten their mission. Now many of these churches do some great things. They have very spirit filled worship services. Their pastors preach biblical sermons. They reach out to their community and help in many charitable ways. But many of these same churches are more concerned with the programs of the church. Discipleship is not a program, it is a lifestyle. Making disciples should be our passion and focus as believers.
The first question we must ask ourselves, as we decide to do what Jesus commanded, is are we a disciple of Jesus?
If we are a disciple of Christ then we are being transformed daily to be more and more like Christ. We should be spending meaningful time in prayer with God. As disciples of Christ we should be reading scripture and allowing it to change us. We should be confessing and repenting of our sins so that we can overcome our sin nature and put it to death. If we try to make disciples of Jesus when we are not disciples ourselves we run the risk of making disciples of ourselves.
The second question is who do I disciple?
Should it be someone who is a believer or should I search for a non-believer to lead to Christ and then disciple them? Only the Holy Spirit knows. Discovering who to disciple always begins with prayer. As we start the process of looking for someone to disciple we need to pray for a “person of peace.” When Jesus sent out His disciples he told them to look for a “son of peace” (Luke 10:6). This person of peace has been prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive the Gospel message and will have influence amongst their family (oikos). When you pray for a person of peace and find them, the Holy Spirit will let you know that this is the right person. It is important to not get discouraged if you can’t find someone to disciple right away. God is either preparing them or you for the experience. Be patient and keep praying.
The third question is how do we do it? What method do we use to make disciples?
There are many different models out there that different churches are using. There is Training for Trainers (T4T), Life Transformation Groups (LTG), 3DM, and many others. The key is to use the model that best works for your personality and culture. For me, Life Transformation Groups work best. In this model two to three people get together and work their way through scripture. They begin by sharing what they are struggling with personally and then discuss what God is showing them in the scripture passages that they are reading. Then they pray for those that don’t know Christ. What I find most attractive about LTG is the amount of scripture that is covered. I have always believed that the Bible will change our lives if we just take the time to read it and have it change our hearts. This is one of the main goals of LTGs. One thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter what your level of Bible knowledge is. The beauty of these groups is that no one is above another. It is not about teaching the other person what you know, it is about growing in Christ together. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens the other.” Sometimes I am the one sharpening, sometimes I am being sharpened.
Father, as I am waiting for you to prepare someone for me to disciple, please prepare me. Help me to find a person of peace to share my walk with and to sharpen as I am sharpened. Give me patience with myself and with the person you are preparing for me to disciple. May You be glorified in all that I do. – Amen