How To Make Disciples of Jesus

  • Sumo

Our job is to make disciples, our goal is finishing the Great Commission.

Each believer is supposed to be a disciple.

And if he is a disciple then he should make disciples, because a disciple is one who makes disciples.

Are you a disciple then?

Each believer can supposedly say, “So-and-so made me a disciple of Jesus.” But sad to say most Christians could not point to someone who made him a disciple. Their answer is vague and blurred.

If we are commanded by Jesus to make disciples then disciple-making is for everyone. It is for you, it is for me.

If we are commanded to make disciples, then there must be people out there who we can make disciple.

The question is: Who should be make disciples? And second, how are we going to make disciple? This includes the question: Is there any manual to do it? How many years?

FINDING YOUR CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE

I asked an Indian church planter who has 120 master trainers and about 45,000 members in his house church network: “What is your secret?” He answered with one simple sentence: You have friends and the power of God in you.

Each person can influence a minimum of 12 people, like Jesus. And influence 12,000 or more people to the maximum in his whole lifetime. In other words, there are really people out there who we can make disciple! Each of us can start sorting them out beginning in our family circle and then to our circle of friends. God has placed people for you to make disciple, not only around you but also ‘to all nations.’

To begin, get some paper and pen and…

1. List down the names of all your family and friends who you are in contact with. List as many as you can. If you notice, these people in your list have mixed backgrounds, gifts and talents, behavior, attitude, it doesn’t really matter, even if you don’t like them. There are people on the lists who you can be with, work with and build with. Keep your list.

2. Then highlight those people who belong to this category:

a. People who believe in you

b. People who trust you

c. People who are loyal to you

The verse? Simple. Read 2 Timothy 2:2 – ‘Entrust this to faithful men…’ Meaning,

IT IS REALLY EASIER TO MAKE DISCIPLE TO SOMEONE WHO RESPECTS YOU.

Like it or not, these people will always be there for you. If you tell them something they would believe it without question. And if you ask them to do something, they will gladly do it. Why? Because they have your trust. If you don’t recognize these people, then someday, if not tomorrow, you will only pity yourself because you have not done your work to make them a disciple of Jesus. You could have every chance to do it but you neglected the privilege. I too have some regrets of not doing my job earlier in my life.

QUESTION: How am I going to approach the person who I want to make a disciple?

Honestly, this is not really a question that you want some answers. Let’s deal with what you think and feel first. You don’t have to be afraid or ashamed to talk to the person face to face because you know that he or she believes in you and trusted you anyway. Second, let him know that you are going to ‘make’ him a disciple of Jesus. To say it simply, tell him that you want to show him how to follow Christ in his every day life and that you want to join with him on that journey.

I had a pastor for years. From the moment I got saved I loved him very much. He was the best preacher that I could listen and listen to and learn a lot. But sermons don’t produce a disciple, that’s the fact. It only produces listeners. Almost, every day I went to my pastor’s house for one reason: I want to learn from him. But to my dismay, I felt not equipped, not ready to do my job of making disciples.

BE WITH, WORK WITH AND BUILD WITH

As you recognize the category above, the people in this list are more or less younger than you. There might be some people in the list that are older or same age as you, but hardly. The people then who you separate in a category are people who you can BUILD with. To some of your friends who are only good to be with and work with but not to build with, maintain your relationship with them. Now you can be able to focus your time, money and attention on those people who you can build with – to make into disciples.

MAKE DISCIPLES

As I said earlier, each believer should be able to answer anyone who asked them, ‘Who made you a disciple?’ She/he can answer plainly, “It’s brother so and so made me a disciple.”

Talking about discipleship then, you are a disciple, a follower of Jesus, not mine. I only ‘make’ you a disciple as commanded in Matthew 28:19-20: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’

I don’t disciple you, that’s not my job or your job. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job to disciple someone because he or she is Jesus disciples. If he is my disciple then that could be my job to disciple him. I only ‘make’ disciples for Jesus. On my second article entitled, “RELATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP” talks about this more.

LEAD FOR A WHILE

Leadership in the Scripture is not someone at the top, but on the ground, a servant. The test then is not ‘how many people are behind you, but how many people you’re behind,” as Gary Goodell realizes. My point is, in making disciples, you lead only for a while, not for a lifetime! You lead the disciple not in the front, but on the side – walking together in a journey, then as he keeps on walking, you deliberately send him off, push him up to Jesus, meaning, you lead from the back.

Leading in the front is letting people push you up and help them fulfill your vision. Wrong. We have no personal ownership of our vision except what is given to us. We don’t own a vision, we are captured by the vision that God has showed us – ‘go and make disciples of all nations.’

Leading at the back then is pushing people up to Jesus. To find their own calling in God, to listen to the Holy Spirit. As I make disciples, I should not tell anyone what to do for they will not be led by the Spirit of God. A disciple is a follower. When you follow someone, it means you are walking at his/her back, as we ‘walk in the Spirit’ and ‘are led by the Spirit’ [Rom.8:14]. Every one of us can make disciples [for a while, not a long time], but every one of us is a follower of Jesus and not of any pastor or any person. Our thrust is to encourage one another to listen to the Holy Spirit in us. I cannot tell you what to do for I do not know the call of God in your life. The Spirit of God in us will ‘teach all things’ [Jn.16:13, 1Jn.2:27]. The Holy Spirit in me is not more mature than your Holy Spirit nor is yours more mature than mine.

HOLY SPIRIT – ‘PARACLEO’

The Holy Spirit in Greek is called paracleo, meaning ‘along side.’ How can I lead in the front then? Does that mean the Holy Spirit will follow me? Huh! And how can I stay long [lead for a lifetime] in the life of a disciple if the Holy Spirit is a paracleo? The word ‘follow up’ could not even be applied in this principle. It will only hinder the Spirit’s work in the life of a person. It is time to fully trust the Holy Spirit for His work to do [Jn. 14-17]. We have done conferences, seminars, workshops, collecting and making manuals, expensive programs on discipleship, but nothing much really happened. Even a city which is full of churches has not been turned upside down! ‘Churches as we know it’ are insane trying to do the same thing over and over again expecting different result, yet the result is always the same.

THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE MODERN CHURCH

As I shared these principles with a friend, an extended family he said, “I have been joining seminars on discipleship but nobody has answered my question, “how?” Why? Because all we do is collect ‘right’ materials in our hands and filed them up. The Christian is still alive and kicking, not dead in Christ, and so ineffective to send to the field. I like how my friend Wolf articulated it with a bit of drama. “Three ways how Jesus would make disciples,” he said. “First, he gathers them to Himself. Second, He kills them!” Everyone was a bit shocked and laughed when he continued, “In our churches today we gather them but we never kill them.” And he paused for awhile and turned his face to the side and said in a big yet small voice, “Who kills them?” And third, “He sends them to be scattered abroad.” Our churches are good at picking some potential people who have talents and abilities and use them inside the four corners of our churches in which supposedly to be sent back to the marketplace, to the world which is the field.

Graham Cooke has a theory, “It’s only a theory,” he said, “that God is not trying to protect the church from the world.” But the other way around, “He wants to protect the world from the church.” I think he has a point. We make God’s people religious instead of righteous. Instead of following Jesus, we make them followers of ourselves in which Paul strongly warns the Ephesian Church, “There are some among you who gather disciples for themselves.”

YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN

God has called us by His Name, by what name are you called? Baptist? Pentecostal? Evangelical? Living Way Christian Fellowship? Living Light? Living Spring? Living Water? I believe that the next breed of Believers will not be called by their denominational names but only by His Name: followers of Jesus Christ. They will not be merely called ‘Christians,’ but ‘priests of God’ whose commission is to go and make disciples; they will be the ‘church going,’ not church-goers. “As you go, make disciples of all nations.”

Yes, the ‘followers of the Way’ were first called Christians in Antioch, yet it was the non-believers who gave them this name. Simply put, like my Dad’s comments: “Oh, that’s a Christian.” Or, “Ew, is that a Christian?” Get the difference? Dad mostly uses the one that has a question mark simply because he doesn’t see much difference in Christianity and the world. If you label yourself as a Christian, then the next question would always be, “What church are you a member of?” And thirdly and mostly, “Who’s your pastor?” Such questions lead only to denominationalism, not the Kingdomization. The Scriptural way is: I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Paul made me a disciple ‘for a while’ [1Cor.9:1,2]. In this statement this will let the person think only of Jesus. He might reply, “What’s that?” And you can share with him about your life of following Jesus twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week.

MY JOURNEY THEN AND NOW

As you start your journey in making disciples, let me share with you what I have realized as I did mine.

Other than my journey on house church planting and coaching others to do the same, I have been ‘trying’ to make disciples even before then. Of the 13 house churches in my first year 2000, I discipled 18 young people. Most of them were the ones who handled these house churches in the city. We had discipleship training every Monday night and during the week we had different workshops. I loved practical stuff and hands on practices that even after our Sunday-Worship-Morning-Ser

vice [whew that’s a long phrase], I sent them two by two to my community and got reports on what they have done. And you know, young people love this. At times in my workshop, I let them go two by two and ride in jeepneys and one pretends to be a non-believer and the other is a believer who’s trying to witness to the other. So, even the moment they took their first step to ride in a jeepney, they started this ‘pretend’ religious loud conversation, such as, “Really? Are you going to heaven when you die? How arrogant you are.” And this starts a sharing conversation. The ‘unbeliever’ kept on asking questions about life, death, heaven and hell, and the ‘believer’ referred to some verses in the Bible and started reading it aloud so that everyone in the jeepney can hear. Most of the time a ’sinner’s prayer’ ended the ‘conversation.’ A great workshop for each to have a hard nose. And they did.

WAKING THE DEAD!

One scary workshop of mine is letting them go to a cemetery, but each [not two by two this time] will witness to a dead person in front of a tomb! But before sending them out, I taught them about evangelism and shared with them some stories about resurrection. We did it for two nights; yes, at night in a public cemetery where there was not even a light except some reflections from the road lights. I advised them to shout aloud while witnessing, to be bold and not scared, and of course to rebuke first all demonic spirits. And all of them did. All the purpose there is about learning to witness: If you are not afraid of the dead person, then you are not afraid to witness to a non-believer who is ‘dead’ in Christ. The second night the number of those who attended almost doubled. They had been telling their friends to join in the experience.

I collected materials and I made some to fit what I wanted. Quite a nice experience but not totally satisfactory. Why? They were still dependent on me and the church programs. Although some have grown up. It is one of the main reasons that out of 13 house churches, only 3 remains until now and have become traditional is their churchings.. But in the principles that I have been teaching recently, several house churches have been planted. I don’t even know how many they are really. All I know is something is moving out there because I receive text messages on my cell phone about what they are doing, and have been receiving emails about it! Do I need to know the details? Christ is the only head of the church and He will never lose track of them! [Jn.4:23]

So, when I finally started jotting down these names and talk to them one by one about this procedure, I came up with a good number.

I listed all my friends who I know, and I got some pretty good number, around 30 of them of whom I can call by name. Some are believers in my house churches. Some names are non-believers. But to my amazement, I only got 8 people around me whom I think are qualified to be in the category of people who believe in me, trusted me, loyal to me. “It’s okay,” I said to myself. It’s a good start. Then I began meeting each of them and told them that I will make them a disciple.

And then at that moment, I let them write down the names of their own friends and do the same. Some of them have 8-10, most of them have 3-5. Then having got those numbers I then drew some circles in a piece of paper with those names including mine and the lines of communications between each other’s friends. And so how many people I get in the process? Seventy! This is my first generation. And imagine, those friends that they have got their own friends as well right? And the number goes on and on.

“But we are not in the numbers game brother, to just pick some names to put down in the list. We have to know the quality of those whom you make disciple.” We will come to that section, my friend. I just do this to know what I am doing and where I am going after 5 or 10 years or so. So, if you want to join me in this journey all you have to do is to sign up for this exciting journey.

MAKING DISCIPLES IS NOT A ‘ONE-MAN’ SHOW, IT’S FOR ONE-ANOTHER!

Now, with these friends and friends that they have, do I need to know them? Do I have to make disciples of their friends? No. The ones who will make them a disciple are those who I just made a disciple. Their friends respected them and not me. They might respect you, but if you allow yourself to do the making alone, then you will have a tendency to raise yourself up from among the brethren. And this is the surest way to denominationalism, “I am Apollos’,” “I am Cephas’,” “I am Aristobolos.” [1Cor.3:1-4]

The three [3] diagram above shows how things are going on. Many small circles in a piece of a white paper, and some lines of communication. Remember, the lines you can draw to yourself are just your own friends whom you make disciple. The ones they have are theirs to do the job, not yours. They will look like ‘rebellious’ to you if you try to make them disciples, because they do not respect you nor trust you, they do not know you. Check it out, my friend, if you have what I have pictured in my mind, then you can hardly find who’s the leader [Check the last Diagram again]. Why? Because everyone will be led only for a while by someone, not one man. Everybody listens to the Holy Spirit for his own life and situation. Isn’t this right and Scriptural? Everybody will function as a ‘priest’ and a disciple maker.

QUESTION: HOW AM I GOING TO MAKE THEM A DISCIPLE? IS THERE ANY MANUAL?

Answer: I call this Relational Discipleship as oppose to having manuals, curriculums and time and day schedules. Materials have their own place but really most of the times we prefer to use them because we mis-read Jesus commands of ‘making disciples’ we liked to read them ‘go and disciple people. We like to take the longest bridge of teaching people for 4 years in a Bible School training or do short-cuts in discipling people and disciple more. Finished the manual for a year or two and have another batch of people somewhere else again and again and again without having real ‘children in the Lord,’ only adopting for a while. We don’t want to spend as much time as it needed. In other words, we don’t want to build relationships. But only through relationships you can model the life you want the person to follow that is why it is called a journey. Jesus never did short-cuts and short-trips with His disciples; this is a ‘destination disease’ that if I finished Class 201-Maturity, am I matured already, really? Are you? The nine [9] fruit of the Holy Spirit which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Gal.5:22, 23] is not a proof that you are a matured person but it only shows that you are progressing in your way of life. They are not the qualification of you being mature person but it is a quality of your life that you lived among everybody. If it is a proof and a qualification rather than a progress and a quality you should have love or kindness all the time, it would not have left you in every situation. But its not there all the time and you have to make a choice to have ‘self-control’ over things. See, not ‘spirit-control’ this shows progression and quality of life. They’re not there all the time. You have to work for it again and again in every situation that bumps in your life. These are not just principles to figure it out if they worked or not, they are practices! Jesus didn’t teach principles but practices. “He who practice these things.” [Jas 1:22; Matt. 7:21, 24] You have to practice love every time you face an unlovable person. Or a good example would be, you might be waiting patiently for your wife for being late for hours but when she finally arrives you scolded her – you’re not being kind then. “Love is patient and kind,..” [1 Cor.13:4] Practice does not make you perfect, it will just make you used to it!

Let them face their own problem and solve it, rather than asking them to join a weekly meeting and hand them manuals. Making disciples is not discipling for a lifetime but a lifetime of relationship.It’s by life.

FAMILY

And how’s the relationship for each of them? Not friends anymore, but ONE family in Jesus. Your extended family. Your house-church, a ‘household of faith.’ The way my father fathered me when I was young is different from the way he fathers me now. As you ‘lead for a while’ you become the person’s father and he becomes your young child. But when he becomes a grown-up son [“He who is LED by the Spirit are called SONS of God.” A son is led by the Spirit, Rom.8:14], you go on to fathering another child. Meaning, you don’t stop building healthy, devoted relationships with anybody until they fit into the category. Put it this way, when a child is a child he be served by his father, but when he becomes a son he learns to served his father.

PARENTS IN THE LORD

Being a father does not need seminary training to be a professional leader; he will be trained in the most natural places on earth: homes. “One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence, for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” [1 Tim.3:4,5]. Trained in real life situations, a natural father.

‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right’ [Eph. 6:1]. We can be or we can have ‘parents in the Lord,’ too, right? Do you have one? The one who make you a disciple. Do you have children in the Lord? Like Paul who became a father to the Corinthian Believers: ‘You have many teachers but lack fathers, and I have become a father unto you.’ He also became a father to Timothy [1Tim.1:2; @Tim.1:2; 2:1]. Like John the beloved as well who had many brethren and children: “My dear children, I write these things to you.” [1Jn.2:1, 7, 12, 18, 28]. Timothy was admonished by Paul to treat others like a family [1 Tim. 5:1,2]. It is a family then, and whenever a family member of yours needs your help, you help them, [“You don’t sponsor a family,” as my friend Mike Peter says] answering questions and providing guidelines. This is not a ‘lifetime’ of discipling, this is a lifetime of relationship, your extended family.

THESE ARE HOUSE CHURCHES; ORGANIC CHURCHES; SIMPLE CHURCHES, OR SIMPLY CALL IT A CHURCH!!!

We might develop a ‘lifestyle’ of having daily house church meetings with different Christians and people around. Talk about life and God over coffee, or a meal with someone else. But your circle of extended family is your house church. And think about it: 1, 2, or maybe 6 months from now, each of these people will be making disciples their own friends. The number could not be counted. Anyway, this is ‘Intentional Discipleship.’

For more questions and helps, write me: molong.nacua@gmail.com