“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20.
It is clear throughout Jesus’ life that discipleship was incredibly important to Him. So important, in fact, that it was included in some of His last words to His disciples in Matthew 28 before He left earth.
We know Matthew 28:19-20. We talk about it at church and in small groups. In many cases, we have memorized the words. The term “disciple” means a pupil, a student, a learner, or an apprentice. Being a disciple means one who is a close follower of a certain teacher, advocating the same teachings and striving to apply them to every area of life.
The Apostle Paul has this to say in Colossians 1:28: “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.” Simply put, discipleship is the lifelong process of spiritual growth, aided by the Holy Spirit and personal relationships. The foundation of discipleship is the formation of relationships between Christians with the intention of helping believers grow in maturity, learning and applying Christ’s commandments and the principles found in the Word of God to all of life. In other words, our role is encouraging and investing in new believers by sharing our understanding and experience.
The beginning of a disciple-making culture is you. But it isn’t about working harder, working smarter, and getting more skills. It is about getting involved. We disciple in everything we do, so we should be intentional in everything we do to model the love and grace of Jesus — and as often as we can, to teach them how to find that love and grace for themselves.
Discipleship also enables us to raise up leaders. Just as the original design of discipleship in Jesus’ time was laid out, the same principle lives today. Discipleship is meant to pass on the wisdom and leadership of Christ to every person who seeks to follow Him. Christians are not meant to stay stagnant in the body, looking to one or several people for guidance and direction, it is instead the whole body that should be active and working together. As in any successful business, the next generation of leaders must be identified and trained.
- How would you define Jesus’ method of discipleship? What are some aspects of it?
- What are some difficulties inherent in the discipleship process? How do you overcome those difficulties?