In my little book, The Simplicity of Disciple-Making and 7 Ways We’ve Complicated It! I share how Jesus gave His followers (including you and me) a parting task right before He ascended to heaven.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth. Therefore, as you are going through life, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. As you go, know that I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (author’s paraphrase)
Jesus has authorized us as His representatives to make disciples. He indwells us by His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and empowers us to do what He has asked us to do—make disciples.
But making disciples has become a mystery to us. We’ve complicated it and it has become so convoluted, that many Christians throw up their hands in frustration not knowing what it means to disciple someone or how to do it.
So, let me offer a simple definition of disciple-making: Representing Christ to others through our life and words. That’s it! It’s that simple! Jesus put disciple-making on the bottom shelf so that any follower of His can disciple others. All you have to do is read the Gospels to see this is true.
As we make disciples, we’re literally helping each other follow Jesus. And as we follow Him and draw near to Him, He transforms us, and we become more and more like Him. That’s the goal of discipleship, to become like Jesus as we draw near to Him.
The previous paragraph points out something that is vital for understanding how Christ transforms us and how we disciple others. He changes us and makes us more like Him through relationships. In fact, we cannot grow in Christ apart from deep, growing relationships—both with Christ and with other followers of Jesus. (Check out the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and see that nearly all of them are relational.)
Step into a Discipling Relationship
Below are 7 simple tips for discipling someone. These are in no particular order. They’re not a list to check off, but examples of what we do in a discipling relationship. Let’s assume for illustration that both you and the other person already know Jesus.
- Same gender, mutual and reciprocal. This is very important. Both for reasons of propriety and effectiveness, men should meet with men and women with women. Please don’t view this as old fashioned or prudish. (This was Paul’s instruction in Titus 2.) Also, instead of creating some weird pecking order, view your relationship with the other person as mutual and reciprocal. You will both grow in Christ as you meet.
- Meet regularly and purposefully. Define the relationship so both of you know why you’re meeting. Agree that you are discipling one another, helping each other draw closer to Jesus.
- Share what God is doing in your life. Be transparent and honest with each other. If you’re struggling, admit it. Be real with each other.
- Challenge each other by asking great open-ended questions. Ask questions like:
- What has God been doing in your life?
- How has God been speaking to you from His Word?
- What can I pray for you about?
- How is your relationship with your spouse?
- What’s one thing you’d like to see Christ change in you?
- How would you describe the health of your relationship with God right now?
- Pray with each other. Pray with and for each other. Praying for someone is an act of love.
- Discuss God’s Word. God’s Word is a vital ingredient in our growth as Christ’s disciples. But you don’t have to experience a Bible study together to discuss His Word. Simply ask, “What has God been showing you from His Word lately?” If your friend hasn’t been in the Word lately, challenge him/her boldly and humbly to be in God’s Word.
- Spend time together in real life. When you read the Gospels, you see Jesus spending time with His disciples in real life. They walked or hiked everywhere together. They spent a lot of time in a boat, in the mountains, in villages, in homes, at weddings, funerals, in synagogues, in the temple, etc. I spend a lot of time discipling other while hiking or snowshoeing.
There are many reasons for spending time together in real life, but one primary reason is so we see each other in everyday, real-life situations that are not crafted as sterile, “spiritual” environments. Jesus wants to transform all areas of our lives.
That’s it. Disciple-making is neither difficult nor complicated. Anyone who knows Jesus can engage in discipling others.
If you’d like more ideas on discipling, order my little book, The Simplicity of Disciple-Making and 7 Ways We’ve Complicated It! Read it together with your friend and simply do what it says. I wrote that book in such simple terms that after you read it once, you won’t be dependent on it.
So, who are you going to disciple? Let me know you’re taking on this “Big Challenge” by clicking on the button at the top of this page.
Your brother in Christ,
©2019 Rob Fischer