- What Is Disciple-Making?
- Three Facets of Disciple-Making
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.
1. What Is Disciple-Making?
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 13:34, 36
All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. . . . Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
2 Timothy 2:2
What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
1 Thessalonians 2:8
Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
Disciple-making: the process in which a maturing believer invests himself, for a particular period of time, in one or just a few younger believers, in order to help their growth in the faith — including helping them also to invest in others who will invest in others.
2. Three Facets of Disciple-Making
“We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention.” —Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
Romans 10:17 (Galatians 3:2, 5)
Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Pay attention to what you hear.
We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
2 Peter 1:19
We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
The Attention War in 1 Timothy
1 Timothy 1:3–4 (Titus 1:14)
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
1 Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.
1 Timothy 4:13, 16
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. . . . Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
2. Words (And Their Magic)
I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
Jesus as “the Word”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another
“Praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” —C.S. Lewis
Ed Welch on biblical counseling: “Wherever you are, there is something you’re going to hear that is shockingly good.”
1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Peter 5:2–3
Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
The Tacit Dimension
Pastor Tom Nelson highlights the importance of what Michael Polanyi calls “tacit knowledge,” that is, “the kind of knowing that is difficult to capture in propositional terms or categories, but that emerges in the context of a close relationship and in the imitation of another” (Nelson, The Flourishing Pastor, 94).
“By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself” (Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, 53).
Jesus Among His Men
Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him.
He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
God Does the Magic in Disciple-Making
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.