A Process for Making Disciples  

Jeff Christopherson

By Jeff Christopherson  

Several questions occur when talking about making disciples such as: What is our part in making disciples? How intentional? Do we simply preach, organize small groups or classes and leave the results totally to God? Or do we use guilt, manipulation and confrontation to make sure people do what we think is needed?

Paul gives us a picture of how we work together with God to accomplish His mission.

God assigned Apollo and Paul completely different roles in the process of making disciples. Apollos’ role as a discipler was different than Paul’s, yet equally important. Apollos had built quite a following. This is how that Luke introduced him in Acts:

A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. (Acts 18:24 HCSB)

Apollos had a “presence” that God used to capture and challenge people on their spiritual journey.

Paul was a missionary, apostle and God-ordained entrepreneur for the gospel. Digging a hole in the soil, placing the seed in the ground and covering up the hole is a part of the process that Paul mastered. Apollos came along and nurtured the plant—another intentional and indispensable role in the process.

Paul explained how a discipleship process worked:

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (I Corinthians 3:5-9 HCSB)

But God makes the plant grow. God uses our intentionality as a platform to do what only He can do.

Different People 

In baseball everybody doesn’t stand in the batter’s box in the same place, some stand on the left or right side, others switch at will. Many baseball players are a long way from first base.

If disciplemaking is your destination, one path will not help them all. Everyone is starting from a different red dot. The ultimate destination is Jesus Christ— but obstacles and next steps are unique depending on the person.

Different Rates 

The “speed” and multi-tasking required from a new church planter is staggering. Planters understandably struggle to set priorities and remain focused. For your mission to succeed you needed a predetermined plan, a clear path, and intentional steps.

The most important question to answer in a discipleship process is this; “What kind of disciple should we be making?”

  1. They engage people with the gospel (disciplemaker).
  2. They obey the commands of Christ (obedience).
  3. They demonstrate Christ-like character (character).

Different Places 

Just as every new church has their own strategic rate, new church planters should determine their discipleship process early. Everything in your new church should support the process. Here are four simple questions to help you begin the process:

  • What kind of disciple are we making? (Definition)
  • How do we help them assess their own maturity? (Stages)
  • What environments and relationships will we create in order to help them mature? (Steps)
  • How will we measure and celebrate success? (Metrics)

Discipleship begins with the first conversation you have with a lost person. Your process should be so simple that they can understand and own it. A common mistake of new church planters is that they subconsciously view that disciples are made to support the church domain. But Sunday morning disciples are, at best, only making baby steps to becoming what God wants them to be. Discipleship processes are church supported and designed to be practiced in the personal world of each disciple Monday through Friday.

This blog is adapted from the North American Mission Board’s Send Network vice president Jeff Christopherson’s book Kingdom First.

Discover your next missional opportunity by visiting the Send Me Portal.

Read more excerpts from Kingdom First on the Send Network blog.

Date Created: 2/11/2016 12:25:17 PM

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