I listen to and read a lot of material on discipleship and disciple making [a lot.]
Often, when I am listening to a podcast or reading a book or article, I am reminded of how many different approaches and definitions there are on the subject of disciple making and discipleship. Those words do not mean the same thing to everyone.
The concepts of discipleship and disciple making range from a very rigid process and plan to an “almost anything fits” concept. It’s crazy how many different things can fall under the same terms.
For the record, I believe we have to let Jesus define discipleship and disciple making for us. Jesus gives us the perfect model for how to help untrained seekers become fully trained disciples (Luke 6:40.) As you look at the way Jesus made disciples, you see that He was intentional and strategic. Jesus’ disciple making plan appears to be fluid and flexible, but the closer you look, you see the intentionality behind it.
Jesus did not have a set time to meet with His disciples, yet, He was with them almost 24/7. Jesus did not have a curriculum or book that He followed, yet, He knew exactly how to equip them for the mission. Jesus did not have a classroom, building, or restaurant booth to meet in, yet, He had an environment that was optimal for disciple making.
It is very clear that Jesus had a target in His disciple making. He was intentional about making fully trained disciples that looked like Him. There is no question that Jesus was strategic in the steps He used to intentionally lead His disciples to become leaders of His movement. Jesus was very intentional about the elements and environments He used to mold and shape His disciples. Jesus was intentionally developing His disciples to become leaders and disciple makers. None of what Jesus did was an accident.
As I consider this intentional approach Jesus used, I believe we need to follow His model. I think disciple making needs to have an intentional target – the target of a fully trained disciple who has Christ-like character and conduct. I think disciple making needs to have an intentional strategy or process. It should lead untrained seekers to become fully trained disciples. Disciple making should have intentional environments where content, contact, context, and correction are all occurring. I think disciple making should have an intentional plan to produce more disciple making leaders.
If disciple making is not being done the way Jesus did it, it’s more like education, mentoring, or coaching. I suggest we leave the words “disciple making” to the process of developing fully trained disciples with Christlike character and conduct who are equipped to become disciple making leaders. I think it is a mistake to call all forms of Christian education “disciple making.” If the word for disciple, “mathete”, means to train and equip, then let’s be sure it is training and equipping people to fulfill the mission of making more disciples.
At Impact Discipleship Ministries, we exist to inspire people and churches to be and build disciples of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this mission through providing resources, training, consulting, and coaching for disciple makers around the world. If you are interested in knowing more, please contact us and find out more about making disciples the way Jesus did.