WHY DON'T WE MAKE DISCIPLES?
We believe the Holy Spirit is calling the church back to the New Testament model of relational discipleship. We have not been called to entertain an audience; we have been commissioned to train an army. Jesus spent most of His ministry investing in a small number of disciples who discipled others. Discipleship is at the heart of the gospel. We don’t intentionally make disciples because:
1. We are ignorant of the Great Commission.
When Jesus was about to leave this earth, He did not say, “Go and preach to multitudes” or “Go and build churches.” There is nothing wrong with buildings, good sermons, or mass evangelism, but our priority is to be relational discipleship. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” He spent 3.5 investing into a small group of followers; we are to do the same - invest in some believers for specific periods of time for their spiritual growth.
2. We have not been discipled ourselves.
Doctors in the USA are required to do internship programs, but rarely do Christian leaders receive intentional training from mentors. Paul said, “I became your father through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). This concept is foreign today due to the fatherlessness of our culture and the Church.
3. We prefer programs over relationships.
When Jesus called His men, He appointed them “so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14). Jesus’ first desire was for a relationship; the work of the ministry was secondary. Today we have switched this—our focus is on the work, and the importance of relationships is minimized.
4. We are impressed with size.
We love big and love the spotlight. We prefer addition when God desires multiplication! Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators ministry, was committed to discipleship. He knew if he could invest in a small group of believers until they reached maturity, they would invest in others, and disciples would be multiplied. If 4 people discipled 4 other people in 6 months and those people did the same this would result in 1,024 disciples after 5 years. After 16 years, there would be more than two billion disciples on the earth! If we engage in intentional disciple making, we can reach the world within one generation!
5. Our personal brokenness prevents us from healing others.
The process of discipleship includes the healing of our souls from past wounds. We cannot be mature in Christ if we are still bound by sin and trauma. Many believers today are stuck in spiritual infancy because they have not gone through the necessary process of healing so that they can live holy lives. We will never be able to bring others to spiritual maturity if we do not surrender our wounds to Jesus and receive His healing.
6. We lack patience for the process.
There is nothing sensational about discipleship. Spending three years leading a small group seems unimpressive. Jesus did this, and one of His closest disciples, Peter, denied Him! After Peter was restored, he preached on the Day of Pentecost, laying the foundation for the early church. We may get frustrated with those we disciple, but we never know the Kingdom impact they may make in the future.
Our goal ought to be spiritual sons and daughters that surpass us in spiritual fruitfulness! Let’s get back to the priority of intentional disciple making!