Jesus' final earthly words after His resurrection were a clear and simple call to His followers make disciples:
"I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,"baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last." (John 15:16)
If we are disciples of our Lord Jesus we have no option but to follow. Let's consider what is involved ...
Being a Disciple of Jesus: To make disciples it is necessary to be clear on what a disciple is. This is so because one cannot help another become a disciple of Jesus without being a disciple of Jesus oneself. An Indian friend from Delhi expresses the teaching of the New Testament well: Who is a disciple?
As I reflect on my efforts to follow Christ and make disciples over the years I would express my understanding in this way: A disciple is moving towards the following character, commitments and behaviour:
A disciple of Jesus is becoming increasingly Christ-like in character:
· willing to die to self (John 12) and serve others (Phil 2); all along exhibiting the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
A disciple of Jesus holds to:
· The Lordship of Jesus Christ without rivals
· The authority of the Scriptures in matters of faith and practice
· Living in a disciplined, purposeful manner towards the extension of God's Kingdom.
A disciple of Jesus:
· Exhibits the "one-anothers" of New Testament teaching
· Is making disciples
· Strong in the authority of Christ in resisting Satan where necessary (spiritual warfare)
Disciples Make Disciples: Jesus was clear on this central point. I'd like to share a couple tools and learnings I trust will be helpful:
One of the most helpful books I've come across in my 40 years as a follower of Christ to help grow in responding to the call of Jesus to make disciples:
Walter A. Henrichsen, Disciples Are Made, Not Born: How to Help Others Grow to Maturity in Christ, Cook Communications, Colorado Springs. (Sample pages, at the time of this writing, are available here.)
Discovery Bible Study: A basic means of helping others become disciples of Christ, live in the Kingdom of God and apply the truths of scripture has been called "Discovery Bible Study." The term used for a growth process towards obedience-based discipleship (as compared with disciple-making focused exclusively on knowledge or understanding). Knowledge is not contrary to obedience and the two should not be viewed as opposites, but discipleship cannot be considered complete without obedience. The essential goal of Discovery Bible Study is to discover both Christ and his call on our life. There are two simple techniques, both effective:
The slightly more involved "seven question" approach which I personally use and commend for personal growth in discipleship, making disciples and church planting. The simplest version of the seven questions are here with more detailed guidance here.
Disciple making movements: Jesus made disciples simply by living the life of the Kingdom with them and calling those who followed to go and make disciples also. Consider Jesus' teaching in Matthew 10 and Luke 10.
Whether you travel to make disciples or make disciples at home, you can begin a learn-as-you-go process here.