What is “Becoming a Disciple-Maker?”
2 TIMOTHY 2:2
“And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses,
these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
New believers and members require much more than a handshake when they join your church. They need a Christ-centered friendship with someone who will walk by their side and make them feel welcome. This new friend should be prepared to introduce them to other church members, answer their questions, lead them to a small group Bible study, and serve as a role model for their spiritual growth.
“Becoming a Disciple-Maker’s” mission is to help churches train disciple-makers to personally befriend and equip each new member with the needed ministry skills to enjoy a lifetime of spiritual growth and evangelistic multiplication.
Most churches simply hope their new members find a dedicated Christian friend and learn the basics of spiritual growth. They also hope their new members will attend a small group Bible study and learn how to share their faith. However, instead of hoping many growth minded churches are now establishing an intentional process which will ensure that every new believer and new member receives the personal care and instruction they need. This is the heart of the “Becoming a Disciple-Maker” strategy!
For years, churches have been overlooking their most valuable resource for evangelism new believers. Why are new believers so special in terms of evangelism? Because they still have natural relationship bridges with non-Christians. When we walk with these new members and show them how to grow spiritually and share their faith, they begin to witness and spiritual multiplication takes place naturally.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in the faith just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
(Colossians 2:6 & 7)
WHY ONE-TO-ONE PERSONAL FOLLOW-UP?
Jesus expressed His deep concern about the spiritual nurturing of new Christians when He asked, “Peter do you love Me?...” When Peter said, “Yes,” the Lord replied, “Feed My lambs.” (John 21:15-17) When you invest your time discipling new Christians, it is an evidence that you love Him!
Increasingly, churches are realizing the importance of one-to-one personal care and new member assimilation. Across the years, various methods have been utilized in an effort to close the church’s “back door,” but the problem still exists. To address this need, many concerned churches have offered excellent new members classes, but experience has demonstrated that this approach, though desirable, is still inadequate when used alone. After extensive field-testing in numerous cultures, we have concluded that the most effective method for new member assimilation is encouraging Christ-centered friendships. We believe there are several reasons why this relational early church model has proven so successful:
Studies show that unless new church members soon establish one or more meaningful relationships, they are likely to quietly leave through the “back door.” This is why “Becoming a Disciple-Maker’s” disciple-making process is designed to build an environment of friendship and meet the immediate spiritual needs of each new member. “But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another...” (1 John 1:7)
Individual Care Many new members enter the church as “new borns” and require special attention. “Becoming a Disciple-Maker’s” friendship-based disciple-making process provides this opportunity naturally. The Bible says, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7)
Freedom of Discussion Through friendship, a spirit of openness typically develops naturally. This allows personal questions to be asked privately and discussed in a Biblical context. As a result, positive life transformation takes place. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Spiritual Growth When new members are being encouraged and equipped for ministry, those who are serving as disciple-makers are challenged to keep growing as well “...as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another...” This New Testament methodology (2 Timothy 2:2) creates the positive motivation for continued spiritual development and multiplication. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
Flexible Schedule Utilizing “Becoming a Disciple-Maker’s” highly effective training format, when a disciple-maker or new member is unavoidably detained from meeting, they can simply reschedule for another day. In this way, important material is never missed and spiritual growth is consistent. “He who walks with wise men will be wise.” (Proverbs 13:20a)
BIBLICAL BASIS FOR “BECOMING A DISCIPLE-MAKER”
The Scripture has a great deal to say about disciple-making, once we understand that equipping the saints is primarily a ministry of example. Paul expressed it this way, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) This clear principle echoed Jesus’ earlier words to His disciples when He said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) The unmistakable emphasis of both invitations was to learn by observation. This principle, so common to life, was the cornerstone of early Christian education, because spiritual instruction took place in an environment where relationships were the primary means for gaining personal growth.
Christ-Centered Friendship Love, integrity, truth, and ministry skills were first transmitted in the caring context of a personal friendship. The environment was one of personal trust and mutual encouragement. Spiritual discipline was personally observed, and then emulated by each new generation of believers. This balance between teaching and training was so natural that spiritual vitality simply flowed from one Christian life to another. Perhaps Philippians 4:9 best demonstrates this foundational principle, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice...” What we hear equates to teaching and what we see equates to training. Both forms of instruction are essential elements of the discipling process. Philippians 3:17 says, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
The classic phrase, “More things are caught than will ever be taught” defines one important aspect of Biblical disciple-making. Although many aspects of spiritual growth can be transmitted through the use of Christian literature personality, enthusiasm, laughter, and the twinkle in one’s eye cannot. These experiential aspects of personal friendship are indispensable components of a successful disciple-making ministry. While the cognitive aspects of discipleship are numerous, there is an intangible quality of spiritual life which only flows through the friendship itself.
One-To-One Ministry Why is Christian disciple-making the critical link for successful evangelism? Dr. Herschel Hobbs wisely said, “The work of evangelism is never complete until the one evangelized becomes an evangelizer.” A breakdown in the initial follow-up or foundational equipping process can short-circuit the tremendous potential of this cycle of evangelistic multiplication. Consider compounding interest, the reproductive cycles of nature, or the world’s biological population explosion. Soon it will become clear why multiplication is God’s primary method for replenishing the earth.
Spiritual Multiplication Billy Graham has said, “One of the first verses of Scripture that Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, encouraged me to memorize was “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2, KJV) This is like a mathematical formula for spreading the gospel and enlarging the church. Paul taught Timothy; Timothy shared what he knew with faithful men; these faithful men would then teach others also. And so the process goes on and on. If every believer followed this pattern, the church could reach the entire world in one generation! Mass crusades, in which I believe and to which I have committed my life, will never finish the Great Commission; but a one-to-one ministry will.” (The Holy Spirit, Waco: Word, 1978, P. 147)
For the church, spiritual multiplication is the essential key for fulfilling Christ’s missionary mandate (Matthew 28:19&20). Through just one committed new believer who is growing consistently, sharing his faith naturally, and personally training others to do the same, the entire world can eventually receive the good news of Jesus Christ! This amazing process of spiritual multiplication is so personal, enjoyable, and effective, that worldwide, any church can do it. It simply requires a 2 Timothy 2:2 vision and the commitment to train disciple-makers to personally work with every new member who joins the church. Through Christ-centered friendship, those who are trained in “Becoming a Disciple-Maker” learn both “why” and “how” to disciple others. This progressive cycle of spiritual growth and lifestyle evangelism is the contemporary expression of New Testament disciple-making.
THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL MULTIPLICATION
• If you were to witness for six months and reach one person, and
then disciple him/her for the next six months, at the end of the
first year there would be two of you.
• Then if both of you reached one person each and discipled them,
at the end of year two there would be four growing, reproducing
Christians. If the four of you each prayerfully continued this
lifestyle of witness and follow-up, you could impact the world
for Christ in one brief lifetime!
Year People reached and trained
First year = 2
2 years = 4
4 years = 16
6 years = 64
8 years = 256
10 years = 1024
12 years = 4,096
13 years = 8,192
20 years = 1,048,576
30 years = 1,073,741,824
32 years = 4,294,967,296
33 years = 8,589,934,592
This is more than the current world population! “...and you will be My witnesses...” Acts 1:8
Cutting-Edge Outreach You may be thinking, “If the world can be evangelized in only one generation, then why hasn’t it already happened?” Personal evangelism will not result in spiritual multiplication in isolation from effective disciple-making. In other words, long-term personal instruction and personal evangelism must be seen as interlocking parts of a comprehensive and intentional ministry plan. Making disciples is our highest ministry priority, but that requires a long-term commitment to an equipping process. Ultimately, through this New Testament lifestyle, disciple-making becomes as natural as praying. Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19 are then experienced as the normal Christian life.
Years of field testing have taught us that Christian friendship and disciple-making should start as soon as a new believer makes his or her decision to receive Christ. In one major study, a church learned why 90 percent of its new members successfully completed their several month discipling process. The primary reason for their success was attributed to the fact that every new member was personally assigned to a trained disciple-maker within 72 hours of making their spiritual decision. Speed is important!
Concerned churches are purposefully moving toward protecting their new members because they face a wide range of worldly temptations and distractions that tend to erode spiritual devotion. The Lord’s parable of the seed graphically illustrates this need. “Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and chocked it, and it yielded no crop.” (Mark 4:7)
In today’s nomenclature, personal disciple-making is at the very heart of effective new member assimilation. Each Christ-centered friendship functions like a tutor pointing the way to the many other equipping and educational ministries of the church.
As Christianity restores the relational principle of observation (1 Corinthians 11:1) to its early place of prominence, God is raising up a new generation of witnesses equipped for a lifestyle of service. Luke 10:2 says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” Our challenge as Christians is to live by faith and trust God to accomplish His sovereign objectives as He answers our prayers. May your church members catch this time-honored vision of multiplication and become authentic “salt” and “light” in their spheres of spiritual influence. International Evangelism joins you in that Great Commission vision!
Questions and Answers Concerning Disciple-Making
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Q. Is it necessary for Disciplers to complete both 12 week semesters to become Certified Disciple-Makers? A. Yes. Without both semesters they will not be fully equipped to train their Timothy to become effective multiplying disciplemakers.
Q. Why is one-to-one training an integral part of the practicum’s small group “Becoming A Disciple-maker” instruction? A. The combined teaching/training format is necessitated due to the recognition that many of today’s church members have not yet adequately developed their own personal spiritual growth skills. This is why life-to-life, peer practice is needed before effective discipleship training can begin in most churches. Ministry skills like the daily quiet time, Scripture memory, witnessing, and disciple-making all require time to develop. This is why 24 weeks of small group and life-to-life instruction is needed. Ministry Insights: • It has proven spiritually beneficial for two disciple-makers in training to meet together regularly for several months of practice and mutual encouragement. These training sessions provide the opportunity for course participants to develop their basic spiritual disciplines. “Iron sharpening iron...” experience is essential for disciple-makers to model the needed ministry skills during an equipping relationship. It would be a sad example for a Christian to attempt to train a new believer in a discipline which he or she was not already practicing. In the end, a halfhearted example produces halfhearted commitment! • An important reason for life-to-life training is that its natural transparency helps “screen out” undependable church members who may not be ready for a personal ministry of disciple-making. Q. When our equipped disciple-makers begin personally training new believers and members, how many weeks does it take for them to complete the discipling process? A. A Call to Joy can be completed in only 7 sessions and A Call to Growth in 11 sessions, but that seldom happens. Due to legitimate conflicts, these 18 sessions normally require about 6 months. Since new members mature spiritually at different rates, no anticipated time is set for their graduation. Speed is not the important factor in disciple-making. However, spiritual multiplication does matter greatly. This is why each new member’s ministry of disciple-making should begin as soon as they receive their training. The biblicalprinciple is, “as you freely receive, freely give.” Q. After new believers and members complete the 7 sessions in A Call to Joy and 11 sessions in A Call to Growth, are they ready to begin discipling others? A. Yes. Simply order a Graduate Discipler’s Pack for them and explain how the Discipler’s Guides work. Q. How long does each weekly one-to-one training session last? A. Usually not more than 1 1/2 to 2 hours. However, this is based solely on each trainee’s spiritual needs. Remember, you are building a Christ-centered friendship, so resist the temptation to rush. Relax and prayerfully enjoy your weekly fellowship and study together! It’s helpful to have a flexible ending time. Q. How important is the Coordinator’s ministry? A. It is difficult to overstate the importance of: • Prayerfully selecting the right disciple-maker to equip a new church member • Making these assignments as quickly as possible • Maintaining the assignment process over the years Q. What is the most important component in “Becoming A Disciple-Maker’s” equipping process? A. Each disciple-maker must come to realize that the battle for spiritual multiplication is either won or lost based on the specific daily decision to pray for the opportunity to witness. This is perhaps the most important ministry discipline that you can model for a new believer. 1 Timothy 4:7 says “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” This is a daily decision that you alone can make! Reflect on the parable of the sower and the seed in Mark 4:1-20. Notice that there are four different soils representing man’s receptiveness to God’s Word. The first, second, and third seed do not produce fruit and multiply. However, the fourth seed not only grows, it produces a crop, and multiplies thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times. Consider the third seed? What did the Lord say would keep it from growing and multiplying? In Mark 4:18, He gives the answer. His spiritual diagnosis explains why so many Christian churches are in a state of mediocrity and spiritual decline. He said, “Others hear the Word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the Word, making it unfruitful.” At this time on your Christian pilgrimage, you may be exactly where God wants you to be spiritually. But if not are you prepared to admit it to yourself? Don’t settle for marginal commitment the Lord wants something far better for you than mediocrity! The Bible says, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1&2) He wants to make you a self-disciplined,highly effective Christian! When you think about the fruit He wants to produce in your life; love... joy... peace... patience... kindness... goodness... faithfulness... gentleness... self-control, plus the joy of leading others to Christ, who would want anything less! Please pause at this point spend a few minutes in silent prayer asking the Lord to help you identify anything that is hindering your spiritual growth, and pray He will give you the faith and commitment required to remove it. Sometimes we can feel that mental agreement with the teaching of Scripture is equivalent with obedience. However, it is allowing God to apply His truth in our specific daily situations that makes the Christian faith personally rewarding. Too often, we stop at the point of simply understanding a concept, rather than pressing forward to personal application. For many reasons, we tend to insulate ourselves from change. However, being transformed into Christ’s image is at the very heart of being His disciple, so you can expect positive changes as you spend quality time studying God’s Word with your teammate!
Through spiritual multiplication, you, your teammate, and your entire church can impact your city, state, and world for Christ! Remember to be consistent and put His plans first in your list of priorities. The Lord said, “But, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) These next several months of training will not only prepare you to help new believers and members grow spiritually you will be equipped for a lifetime of effective and rewarding personal ministry!
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19 & 20)
Please click on How to Implement to learn how to implement
“Becoming a Disciple-Maker” at your church.