Go and make disciples…
New Year is traditionally a time to take stock and to form resolutions and goals for the coming year. What better goal can a leader have than to become more strategic and serious about developing those around us into more effective disciples of Christ?
The primary calling of a leader is to ‘make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19-20). a leader is not fundamentally appointed to ensure that ministry is carried out, but to ensure that disciples are made. Looking at how Jesus made disciples shows us that a large part of that process was directed, not at the formal teaching of doctrine and theology, but at the informal, ongoing formation of godly character.
The Gospel of Luke highlights certain aspects of discipling that Jesus employed.
- 6:29-35; 4:1-13; 11:1-4 etc
Establishing a serving community…
Jesus, like all rabbis demanded that his disciples learned their lessons by rote (6:20-26). But serving others was much higher on Jesus’ agenda for his disciples. They were commissioned (5:10) and empowered for ministry, first in Israel (9:1; 10:19) and then amongst all the nations. (24:47-49)
Action and reflection.
Jesus’ disciples were called to ‘catch people’ (5:20). Like every Jewish male learning a trade, they were expected to observe and learn from working with Jesus. They were apprentice-proclaimers of the kingdom, bearing testimony to Jesus.
The news of what Jesus did spread widely (5:15) and many responded in amazement and gave praise to God (5:26; 7:16; 18:43). 19:37 records that. ‘whole multitude’ of disciples recognised God’s power demonstrated in Jesus’ miracles. Healing the demon possessed was a prominent part of Jesus’ ministry from the very beginning. (4:31-36,41)
Establishing the development of maturity.
Jesus was seeking to enable His disciples to develop to maturity and to learn to think for themselves. They had the potential to develop into ‘good soil’ by learning the word of God, holding onto it and bearing fruit (8:5-15). Enlightenment came with Jesus’ presence after the resurrection. The women ‘remembered’. The eyes of the two men on the road to Emmaus ‘were opened’. He appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem and ‘he opened their minds’ (24:8,31,45).
Discipleship is NOT about forming a team to get the job done, or fulfil the ministry. Discipleship is about entering into a relationship with someone with the intention of participating in the formation of the character of Christ in that person. It is the central task of leadership, at the core of the Great Commission (“Go and make disciples of all nations…” ). Our role as leaders, therefore, is to make disciples, enabling the character of Christ to be formed in others.
Available from Sunday 26th January on the Kingfisher church YouTube channel and from kingfisherfamily.org:
- Vision 2020
- Our calling from God to take the Great Commission seriously. This is a call to action – it is not the Great Suggestion, it is our marching orders to Go, Make, Baptise, Teach.What does this mean for you and me in the year 2020 and beyond?
- Keep up-to-date with developments around the world.
- From church building in the Philippines to church planting in India, from chicken rearing in Zimbabwe to the ministry of reconciliation in Belfast, Northern Ireland. By visiting the Kingfisherfamily Facebook page (if you ‘like’ the page you will receive automatic updates) or by visiting the website kingfisherfamily.org
- And don’t forget to visit the website of the incredible Social Enterprise
- Kingfisher Treasure Seekers, to get a taste of all that is happening in the world of Mental Health and enabling people to become the best version themselves. www.kftseekers.org.uk
Where accountability is lacking, real people get hurt, the Body of Christ is damaged and the Gospel of the Kingdom is brought into disrepute
The four-fold discipleship process from Acts 14:21-23
“After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to
Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the
faith, reminding them that they must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations. Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church and prayed for them with fasting, turning them over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had come to trust.” (Acts 14:21-23)
strengthening the souls/ minds of the disciples (verse 22)
Encouraging them to continue in the faith in spite of persecution (verse 22)
Gathering believers into churches over which elders were appointed as teachers and spiritual guides (verse 23)
Entrusting them to the Lord with prayer and fasting (verse 23)
This pattern is largely repeated throughout Acts as the method Paul and Barnabas employed to disciple people:
They ‘strengthened the souls of the disciples’ and the church in the with, by teaching, warning and encouragement (Acts 15:36, 41; 16:5; 18:23; 20:1,2,30)
(‘strengthen’: sterizo, which means to strengthen, set up, make firm, establish, support. So, discipling involves teaching be elements of the faith to new believers in order for them to understand , feel and be able to stand firm. Sterizo is about imparting beliefs, not merely at an intellectual level, but also at the level of feelings. )
They encouraged people to longterm commitment to faith in Jesus. The verb ‘to encourage’ (parakaleo) means ‘to call someone to oneself’ or ‘an admonishment to stand firm’. Encouragement is not a formal teaching activity, but in Acts it happened informally, sometimes just through a person’s presence , or by words, visits and letters (15:31,32; 16;40, 20:1,2). Encouragement equipped new converts to stand firmly in the faith and persevere in spite of suffering or persecution, knowing Jesus’ presence was with them.
Discipling occurred within a community of faith. Probably, only Apollos was disciples alone (18:24-26). Those who committed themselves to belief in Jesus declared it publicly in baptism and then they and their households gathered into groups, united by their faith, belonging to one another. They met regularly and formed close, personal relationships with one another. Within these groups, leadership was important.
New believers were entrusted to His special keeping through fasting and prayer. In other words, their personal relationship with God was the most important aspect of their discipleship. Paul fasted and prayed for the churches he helped to establish, but he commended believers to god for his buried, teaching and care (20:32,36). Greater than all human relationships was their relationship with God. They went Paul’s disciples…they we the disciples of Jesus Christ.