Jesus final instruction to his followers was “go and make disciples”. Since he didn’t give them a syllabus, a PowerPoint or a lesson guide for 2000 years we’ve been wrestling with the “what” question of disciple making; What does a disciple need to know? We’ve tried catechisms, Sunday School classes and video curriculum to convey the correct information with varying degrees of success. The reality, however, is that Jesus method of making disciples was focused more on relationship and action and less on information and knowledge. The key is the “how” question, How did Jesus make disciples?
- Jesus spent time observing potential disciples
He spent time interacting with potential disciples in a variety of situations before tapping them for further development
- Jesus taught discipleship along the way
Rather than classrooms, books and exercises Jesus used birds and lilies and farms to teach discipleship. Discipleship was a natural outgrowth of hanging out together.
- Jesus put his students into difficult situations
He constantly challenged them to lead beyond their comfort zones.
- Jesus did not give his students a template to follow, he gave them a mission to complete
- Jesus treated each disciple as an individual
He confronted Peter, he loved John, he challenged Thomas. In his final words on the beach in John 21 he told Peter that everyone has their own, individualized path to discipleship
- Jesus spent three years developing 12 men
He apparently couldn’t come up with a mass program of microwave discipleship. Not only did his program take three years with 12 students, but it was 24/7/365.
Could our struggle to make quality disciples come from focusing so much on what Jesus said that we miss what Jesus did? Curriculum is easy; life-on-life relational discipleship is difficult, slow and frustrating. And, in the end, the only way to make disciples.