Most churches do a great job of making partially trained disciples. Only a few make fully trained disciples. In fact, I’m guessing only a few churches even understand the concept of a “fully trained” disciple.
Let’s start with the words of Jesus in Luke 6:40: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Not only did Jesus command us to make disciples but he told us to make fully trained disciples who look like our teacher. Our teacher is Jesus.
Making fully trained disciples in your church means making disciples who have both the character and conduct of Christ. In other words, who they are and what they do is becoming more like Christ and less like them. If we are making disciples who have the character and conduct of Christ in all nations we can change the world. In order for the church to get back to the business of making fully trained disciples, a few things must happen.
First, the target of a fully trained disciple must be clearly identified. You don’t stand a very good chance trying to hit a target that you can’t see, and you don’t stand a good chance of making a fully trained disciple if you don’t know what one looks like.
The character of Christ can best be summarized by the fruit of the Spirit Paul gives us in Galatians 5:22-23: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” provide a very objective way of measuring Christ-like character.
The conduct of Christ can best be summarized by the behavior found in the very first description of the church in Acts 2:42-47. In one of the best descriptions of how the church behaved we see a church that was committed to belonging, growing, serving, managing, worshipping, sharing, and multiplying. All seven of these behaviors or marks of conduct give us a very objective way of measuring Christ-like conduct.
Second, the church needs a process or pathway for how a person moves from untrained to fully trained. Making fully trained disciples does not happen by accident. No one moves from an untrained seeker to a fully trained disciple by coincidence.
Jesus led people from untrained to fully trained by inviting them to “come and see” what He was about. Then He asked them to “come and follow” Him in community. In community, Jesus trained His disciples to “come and remain” in Him and His word. Eventually, when they were ready, Jesus commanded His disciples to “come and go out” from Him as called leaders.
This pathway and process has been repeated over and over again for thousands of years. It is the most strategic and intentional way of making fully trained disciples you can find.
Jesus spent three years training and equipping His disciples to be world-changers. His goal was to be with them so that He could then send them out on mission. Christ’s plan was that His disciples would catch His character and conduct from being with Him in small groups, large groups, one-on-one times, and while doing ministry together. Jesus’ plan to make fully trained disciples was a life in life approach where more was “caught” than taught.
Even today, disciples need to be made in small groups where the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God help us transform into the image of the Son of God.
Impact Discipleship Ministries can help you be a church that is making fully trained disciples. Contact us at impactdisciples.com for more information, resources, and training, and specifically, I recommend checking out our latest series of resources, The Impact Series. This series is designed to help you develop fully trained disciples (and leaders) of Jesus who have His character and conduct.