Jesus commands us, "go
and make disciples of all nations".
this, what applications can we derive from his own ministry to the
He instilled in them a sense of intimacy with God, particularly through his prayer life.
Luke 11:1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.
When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to
pray, just as John taught his disciples."
We need to develop a prayer life which communicates intimacy with God.
We need to spend time alone with God. For discipling other Christians
not a matter of always being around them. Others learn a great deal
our actions, and what we do in private often communicates more than
we say in public.
He instilled in them a sense of value for seeking and serving God.
The value of seeking
Matt 6:33 Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
all these things will be given to you as well.
The value of responding properly to persection
Matt 5:11,12 Blessed are you when people insult you,
you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same
they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The value of providing for the poor
Lk 12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide
purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that
will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
The value of helping other Christians
Matt 10:42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to
of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth,
will certainly not lose his reward.
The desire for personal benefits for following Jesus is selfish. We
seek and serve God just because it is the right thing to do and not
of what we get out of it. Nonetheless, it's apparently OK with God if
a bit self-serving in our motivation in following him. For even
faith is characterized by seeking for rewards: "And without faith it
is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must
that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
11:6 Probably due to the innateness of our sinful nature, God
place particularly high expectations on our motivation. But realize
such rewards are out of God's graciousness not out of his obligation.
not paying us to behave properly, but rather rewarding us for doing so.
Therefore do not demand that those you disciple have perfect
If they sense there's nothing in it for them, many immature Christians
will not be motivated to minister and thus remain immature. Give them
that Jesus gave to his disciples.
He instilled in them a sense of authority.
Authority, of course, goes hand in hand with responsibility. He not
only gave them the responsibility to make disciples of all nations, but
also the authority to do so.
Matt 28:18,19 All authority in heaven and on
been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.
Matt 10:1 He called his twelve disciples to him and
to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Men especially are made for positions of authority. Unfortunately in
effeminized society in which we live, in which, for example, the role
"husband" is not recognized as a role of authority, men tend to have
a sense of responsibility. Wives even usurp authority over their
and then complain that they don't do anything. No surprise there! We
to instill a sense of authority to those we disciple. Yes they have
to preach. Yes they are ambassadors for Christ. Many institutional
suppress this sense of authority by limiting the preaching to the
alone. Even "evangelism" becomes simply inviting people to church to
the pastor. The body of Christ is not efficiently being edified unless
everyone is allowed to exercise their gifts.
A Message to Disciplemakers
Also if those you "disciple" really don't accept you as a spiritual
over them, then neither will you have much of a sense of
I can tell you that there are very few people who are willing to be
Most of those you disciple will be reluctant to accept you as a
authority figure. They won't generally listen to you in the same manner
in which Jesus' disciples listened to him, nor will they accept direct
commands. At most you'll be limited to making suggestions or
and you'll have to make a good deal of effort to win a hearing. It's
like doing evangelism!
Part of this is due to the culture we live in in which too much is
of "freedom" in which "submission" to authority is almost equated with
slavery. Part of it is also due to the fact, I am sorry to say, that
of the Christian community really doesn't take the faith seriously.
leaders will treat you with suspicion, even as a threat to their
And your ministry will be treated with contempt as if not having
authority. It's a thankless job to make disciples of Christ in this
Those who are willing to be discipled are few and far between.
But then again we walk by faith and not by sight. Reckon yourself to
have legitimate authority in the sight of God - authority to teach and
disciple - even though others don't acknowledge it. Jesus' authority
also called into question - and that by the religious leaders, which I
will write more about in another paper. Identify with Christ.
He instilled in them a sense of mission, a sense of
John 20:21 As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.
John 21:17 Jesus said (To Peter), "Feed my sheep."
Lu 9:13 Jesus replied, "You give them something to eat."
feeding of the 5000)
Authority is not an end in itself. Authority should instill a sense of
responsibility. But we must help them to get a vision to develop their
own ministry. The Father sent Jesus on a mission. Jesus send his
on a mission. So we should send those we disciple on a mission -
of course, to their particular giftedness and circumstances.
At this stage we must play the John the Baptist role when he said, "He
must become greater; I must become less." Joh 3:30
This is opposite
to our nature. Many relatively godly men have historically gotten too
up in their own popularity and success, only to make too much of
and fail to reproduce. Don't let the ones you disciple become too
upon you, but rather let them feed the sheep. Remember that Jesus left
them after about 3 years. Of course he returned in the person of the
Spirit to guide them. But I think Paul also tended to limit ministry in
particular area to a few years so as to allow for some independence.
"Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of
night and day with tears." Acts 20:31 "So Paul left them.
He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture
hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years."
He instilled in them a sense of community
Joh 13:35 "By
this all men will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another."
Jesus' disciples ended up spending most of their time ministering to
Christians. Disciples must be involved in the Christian community.
to church is a common habit which is along these lines, but realize
loving other Christians is not accomplished by simply being in the same
place with them. Love is a fulfillment of the needs of others, as such
many churches are rather limited in providing opportunities to practice
love according to the real needs available and according to one's
Use of Time in Community Service
In a rich, worldly environment, disciples face the problem that most
Christian don't want you to meet their real needs, but rather to waste
your time fulfilling their worldly desires. It is better in the
community, if the needs are limited, to focus on the quality of your
rather than get overburdened with church programs and meetings.
Christ's example. His involvement with the synagogue was limited. He
spend much time with the "religious" people, nor those reluctant to
him. And if they are ready to minister, I would recommend disciples not
to go to a healthly church but to a sick church, where there's more
And they can practice both evangelism to the "nominal" Christians and
among the redeemed.