There are plenty of churches that say they have a discipleship plan, but what most of them actually have is an education plan. The word “discipleship” is used in a lot of different ways in churches. It is amazing how many definitions we come up with for discipleship. In reality, the only meaningful definition of a disciple is the one Jesus used.
Everything Jesus did to develop a team of disciples to lead His movement is the starting place for how we define and multiply disciples today. I would say Jesus defined a disciple as someone who is like Him in their character and conduct. In fact, Jesus said in Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
We become like our teacher by learning how He lived. Part of being a disciple means learning how to have the character and conduct of Christ. Ultimately, discipleship is not the accumulation of more knowledge- it is the transformation of your life. Jesus literally helped transform people from untrained seekers to fully trained disciples by being “with him” (Mark 3:14.)
The goal of every single church today ought to be having a plan to make disciples who are fully trained and have the character and conduct of Christ. This plan ought to result in disciples who are becoming more like Jesus in who they are and in what they do. When “who” someone is and “what” become more like Christ, that is transformation.
Jesus literally transformed a handful of people into disciples who went out and did the same exact thing with others. Replication is the key. If the disciples had not reproduced more disciples, then their time with Jesus was merely an educational experience. The primary mark of true discipleship is that it leads to reproducing more disciples.
The majority of churches educate believers but they do not lead them to a point of reproducing more disciples. This is part of the reason why the Church as a whole is not making more of a difference in our world. We are disciples today because the original disciples multiplied what Jesus taught them.
The next generation of lost people is depending on us to reproduce disciples. Every church needs to have a plan to get people into discipleship groups. Those groups need to help people become more like Christ in His character and conduct and reproduce that transformation in other disciples.
Impact Discipleship Ministries exists to inspire people and churches to be and build disciples of Jesus Christ. One of the ways we do that is by helping churches develop a plan for making disciples who make more disciples. If you would like more information about how to develop a plan for discipleship contact us!