Jesus commissioned His disciples—all who call on His name—to go out, share the Good News, and show others the way to eternal life in Christ. In short, our Savior called us to be disciplemakers. Why do we find it so difficult to carry out this mission? Perhaps we feel overwhelmed by the responsibility or ill-equipped for the work. But the Truth is you don't need a seminary degree to make disciples. Neither must your life look perfect to pass on what you have received. To be a disciplemaker, you need only humbly admit your need for God's help and be willing to open up your life to another. Here are five ways to begin making disciples.
To be a disciplemaker, you need only humbly admit your need for God's help and be willing to open up your life to another.
1. GO FOR A WALK
Aristotle's school of philosophy was called the peripatetic school, named for the Greek word "walk." He taught his disciples as they walked along. While Aristotle is associated with the name, Jesus was the master of walking discipleship. Mark tells us Jesus called His disciples "that they might be with him" (Mark 3:14). So much of Jesus' discipleship happened on the way to somewhere else. Jesus' example reminds us that discipleship is not primarily about a transfer of information but about a relationship. If you want to be a disciplemaker, invite others to walk alongside you in your life. Offer to walk alongside them in their life. Share your victories and your failures. Enter into their joy and pain. This does not require perfection or knowledge, but humility and empathy. Discipleship is not something you do to another person, but a life you live with another person. Disciplemaking begins with a relationship.
2. INVITE QUESTIONS
As you walk with others, be open to their questions. Too often we prioritize harmony with other people. To preserve peace, we avoid areas of disagreement and tiptoe around difficult questions. However, disciples are made at these points of conflict. Jesus was not afraid of His disciples' difficult questions, and He was comfortable leaving some of their questions unanswered.
Discipleship is not about conformity to a set of right answers, but growth and life-change in the disciple. A disciplemaker is not someone who has all the answers, but someone who connects others to the answer, namely, Jesus Christ. If someone asks a question you don't know how to answer, simply say, "That's a great question! Let's explore it together."
3. SPEAK TRUTH
Just as a disciplemaker need not fear difficult questions, they should not avoid speaking difficult Truth. The early period of Jesus' ministry came with broad popularity: Thousands flocked to hear His teaching and experience His miraculous power. Then Jesus declared, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). This was a hard teaching, and many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him (see John 6:66). But the twelve responded, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (v. 68). The Truth revealed Christ's true disciples.
While we should not be afraid to speak the Truth, we should do it with humility. Imagine spending time with someone who constantly points out what you are doing wrong. You would begin to shut down around that person—perhaps even avoiding them all together. As a disciplemaker, you want to speak when you see unbelief or wrong belief crippling a person's development. But when you speak, you must speak the Truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15). When a disciple knows you are speaking out of love, they can more easily receive your words. And you can be confident that God's Word will bear fruit in their life as the Spirit works to transform their heart.
4. CHECK YOUR HEART
Because of our own sinful nature, it is easy to make disciplemaking about ourselves. This can lead us into either pride or insecurity. Pride makes disciplemaking about how we are perceived in our success or failure. Pride whispers that the mistakes of our disciples reflect poorly on us as disciplers. Pride keeps the focus on ourselves rather than the person we are discipling. Pride kills disciplemaking.
On the other hand, insecurity makes us feel inadequate to disciple another person so that we become paralyzed and ineffective for the Kingdom of Christ. We may worry if people judge us for the shortcomings of our children, marriage, and life. We may even give up trying because we feel disqualified by our past failures or present struggles.
The answer to both our pride and insecurity is the same. At the cross Jesus destroyed our reason for both pride and insecurity. Where is pride when we see Christ crucified for our sin and brokenness? Where is insecurity when we see Christ crucified out of love for us? The cross answers both our pride and insecurity. And this is the same Truth we try to pass on in disciplemaking.
5. MULTIPLY YOUR LIFE
Finally, just as disciplemaking is not about the discipler, neither is it simply about the disciple. Jesus called His disciples to Himself so that He could send them out (see Mark 3:14). True disciplemaking is multiplying. What if Jesus' twelve disciples never made disciples? There would be no church, no Gospel movements around the globe, no knowledge of the Gospel for us today.
Disciples make disciples. The goal of discipleship is life change that creates more life change. It is never too early to encourage someone to share with others what they are learning. The woman at the well brought the Good News to her village only moments after hearing it from Jesus (see John 4:1-42). The demoniac became a disciplemaker throughout the Decapolis right after Jesus returned his sanity (see Mark 5:1-20). Challenge your disciple to multiply by regularly asking, "With whom can you share what you are learning?" Pray together for the people they can influence. Together, seek to be reliable men and women who are faithful to pass on what has been entrusted to you.
JESUS IS CALLING YOU TODAY
Jesus' twelve disciples were some of the least likely candidates to become disciplemakers. They were uneducated fishermen, traitorous tax collectors, and powerless villagers. Yet, God used them to turn the world upside down through the multiplication of their lives. Take heart, disciple. God can do the same through you.