It’s been said that the simple command by Jesus to “go and make disciples” has become something that the American Church has made more complicated than necessary. I contend that the American Church (no matter what group you belong to) is fractured in how to make disciples. Most churches today are a hodgepodge of all kinds of different denominations or non-denominational churches. So, where do you start?
We must understand the definition. What would happen if you put your church staff and elders into a room and asked them the question, “What is a disciple?” What would their answer be? You might be shocked, or embarrassed. So, what target of making disciples is your church aimed at?
We must understand the process of becoming a disciple maker. Jesus modeled this pattern in his life. Jesus also showed us how he discipled the apostles (the 12) and hundreds more who followed him and turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
And we must challenge our brothers and sisters in Christ to grow in their faith in Christ, from:
- Seeker—someone who does not know who Jesus is can learn about him. They are challenged to believe Matthew 16:16
- Believer—that person makes a decision to follow Jesus. (Not debating the steps of salvation)
- Follower—This person now will learn and realize they have talents to serve the Lord, and be challenged to fish for men.
- Multiplier—This person has grown to the point that they are leading others, discipling others to follow Jesus who will make disciples.
We must understand Jesus, the pattern & master.
Hebrews 12:2-3, says he is the originator or creator of our faith, as well as the perfector of our faith. He did not just give us a message of what to do, he gave us a living example by living in this world as we are, and living up to the instructions he has given, without trumping the system by using his deity to live life as a human.
Then he said that we should walk as he walked. He created it, he showed us how to do it, and he taught it to the disciples. Then he told us to go and do as he did and make disciples of all peoples.
The international disciple making movements seem to make disciples faster and more effectively than the American church. This is how I would explain this:
- It seems they have no problem getting believers to have a “white hot faith”. And this faith is on fire to the point that, like the book of Acts talks about, they can’t help but talk about Jesus.
- There has been more proof of success in expecting or receiving higher levels of obedience.
- There has been more proof of success in commitment to much prayer. Not just a little bit of prayer, but much prayer.
- There has been more proof of success in setting goals and accountability to reach those goals of making disciples.
For more information about international disciples making movements, here are some resources that will help you:
- Steve Addison has written several books:
- Movements that Change the World
- What Jesus Started
- Pioneering Movements
- Another prominent leader in international church planting movements is Curtis Sargeant. He is connected to a number of groups across denominational lines. His work with Team Expansion in what was the Jonathon Project has seen a lot of growth internationally.
I want to turn attention now to the American side of this.
- 4 Chair Discipling, by Dann Spader is a great foundational resource, you can find more resources at sonlife.com.
- Discipleshift, by Jim Putnam is another great book.
- Some other resources out there would be something new, called Zume’. This is designed for the American church from the Jonathan Project/international group. You can find it online, zumeproject.com.
- Another web tool for making disciples is antiochjourney.com, a 30-day challenge.
- Rooted, is another international resource that was born out of Kenya that has been changed into a source for the American church. experiencerooted.com
- Disciplepath or T-Net, is another intentional Christian training organization. This was founded by Bill Hull who has been making disciples all his life. tnetwork.com