Monday, November 21, 2011

How to make disciples

This quote by Neil Cole has stuck with me over the past few months and I can't shake it.

"Ultimately, each church will be evaluated by only one thing - its disciples. Your church is only as good as her disciples. It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs, or property are; if your disciples are passive, needy, consumeristic, and not radically obedient, your church is not good."

Search and Rescue: Becoming a disciple who makes a difference

Radical by David Platt

How many people in our churches are thinking small? Most churches want to be big and most church leaders if you hang out with them for long enough will tell you how big there church is. There's even a conference for such churches which I'm sure serves a good purpose. However, it's not a relevant fact in the least it seems to me when it comes to the effectiveness of actually making a disciple in our increasingly consumerist church culture. The question you must ask is 'How are you getting on at making genuine and growing disciples?' and "Tell me HOW you go about doing that?" (large churches may indeed be able to help here but in my experience they are often just large gatherings of Christians very few of whom are proactively discipling another person. The truth is most people don't know how and don't feel confident enough to lead another in 'The Jesus Way'). I have been asking people/Vicars (who are people too:) that question of 'How' and have yet to find anyone who can give me an adequate answer to the question of what their plan is for encouraging and equipping disciple-making.

Here are two more questions for you that narrow this in a bit.

Who am I discipling ?

How am I discipling them?

Who should be asking these questions? Everyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus. Now here is how you might do it.

1. Identify ONE PERSON 

2. Start immediately to pray for them and go on doing so.

3. Ask them if they would like to meet to learn more about how to follow Jesus

4. "Therefore GO" (Matt 28). Agree to meet once every two or three weeks anywhere that mutually suits you both (a coffee shop, a station,  a park, a lunch spot, a bench). The principle is you are going to them. You are the sent one and your movement is to them out of a desire to love, serve and make a disciple of Jesus.

5. Agree what you are going to do in the hour you are going to meet (read through a gospel or a letter, read through 'The Kings Cross', work through Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 5-7, listen to these talks on Proverbs and discuss them, do a Discovery Bible Study etc. The specifics are not the main thing as there is no shortage of resource. Your overarching intention is to love and encourage another in the way of following and loving Jesus and to resource their soul led by the Spirit as a result of having spent time with them. Matthew 28:19-20 suggests discipleship should have two elements a. Teach b. Obey. So discipleship in its simplest expression is about imparting something of the teaching of Jesus and then actively choosing to put it into practice and holding each other to account to do so (Teach and Obey). 

6. Agree ONE THING for each of you to do and pray together at the end of your time together.

7. Do this for two or three months. It is OK to set a time-frame to this.

If you do this and I do this and we teach others to do this too we might make one or two disciples don't you think? Do this one person at the time and be assured the fruitfulness of your life will be unfathomable.


David Keen said...

This is THE question for the church at the moment. We've got a church staff away day next week, looking at Graham Crays booklet 'who's shaping you?', which is all about discipleship in modern culture.

There are more churches which are getting into mentoring and small accountability groups (e.g. Exeter Network Church's 4mation groups) for mutual discipling. Traditional home groups don't have the level of depth or commitment to really enable this to happen. We're also looking at a much more focussed teaching programme (with as much emphasis on skills as knowledge) and at how to build in mission/service experience as part of normal church life: you grow more by doing mission than by sitting in a room discussing it.

But this is very early days for us, and like you I've not found many churches who've got a strategic answer to this question.

David Cooke said...

Thanks for your thoughts. It is one of the many things I am currently grappling with as I think about church planting.

I will check out the Cray book.

A. Amos Love said...

Hi David - You ask...

“Who am I discipling?
“How am I discipling them?”

Here’s a couple of thoughts, questions...

1 - Is discipling, or discipleship, in the Bible? Where?

2 - Why is the word “disciple” NOT in the Epistles?

3 - Why, with all of Paul’s instructions to the ekklesia, does Paul NOT mention disciple, making disciples, discipleship, discipleship training, discipling?

4 - Who, in the Bible, made a disciple of Christ?
And - How did they do it?

And other sheep I have,
which are not of this fold:
them also I must bring,
and they shall **hear MY voice;**
and there shall be
“ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
John 10:16

One Fold - One Shepherd - One Voice

{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

David Cooke said...

Thanks for the comment. Perhaps the question of disciple-making has to do with the 'What' (ie make some) and the 'How' (i.e by grace, in the context of the local church by and led by the Spirit).

Interesting thought though that I will ponder more. David

Saturday blog-sweep

 Some interesting books for pastors The State we're in Attack at dawn Joseph Scriven Joy comes with the morning When small is beautiful