I know, I know Jesus said “Go and make disciples” not “Go and make disciple makers” but I believe that a disciple is a disciple maker. Here is why this is an important distinction followed up with why I believe Jesus intended us to not just make disciples but to make disciple makers.
Why this distinction is important
It is important because if I disciple someone I get 2 generations. One and done. The process is an end unto itself. But if I disciple someone with the same methods that Jesus used with his 12, then what you get at the end of that process is not just a disciple but a disciple maker. This is someone who is BOTH following Jesus and helping others to do the same.
If you make a disciple maker you will always get a disciple. If you set out to make a disciple you might not make a disciple maker. Making a disciple maker allows the process to multiply and expand to multiple generations. This increases the impact of our efforts.
Why I believe Jesus intended us to make disciple makers
First, because this is what Jesus did himself. He trained his followers intentionally for them to have a reproducible process that would work with new people. Jesus didn’t train them to be dependent on him. Jesus trained them to be reliant on the Holy Spirit in his absence. So when the apostles/disciples started planting churches and making disciples, they could do this in a place (presumably through some of the same methods Jesus used with them) so that they would not foster dependence on the apostles but instead reliance on the Spirit.
Second, the great commission results in making disciple makers. Jesus said that when you make a disciple you teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded. That includes the command to make disciples. By default you aren’t just making a disciple who has no idea how to make more disciples. Instead, Jesus modeled an approach that we model for others so that they too can be trained to change lives.
Jesus did not train his followers to be just about them and Jesus but to be about other people as well. So the original disciple model in Jesus wasn’t just about them getting close to Jesus and becoming more like Jesus but was done to help them continue that process on to future generations who would carry it on over and over again.
Implications in Practice
When you think about how you would disciple someone it is important to have a path of some sort. Life always throws us curve balls so we can’t stick rigidly to the path but a well thought, well prayed through path that is influenced by the discipling ministry of Jesus is a good start.
Are you doing things simply so that they are catchable by those you disciple?
Are you doing things in a way that can be learned and reproduced with others long after you are gone?
Is your approach one that the people you work with could see what you did and imitate it with new people?
Or are you discipling in a way that fosters dependence, is complicated, has no discernable path and is basically unrepeatable (maybe even by you!)?
So let us not just make disciples but make disciple makers. I will be talking more about what that actually looks like in future posts. So stay tuned!
I might be dense, but isn’t “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.” self-explanatory in this context?
Would “…teaching them to observe all thing I have commanded you…” not include “..Go therefore ad make disciples…?”
I realize that in practical terms, we have left out some important teaching. Rather than “go, and make disciples…” we taught, “Here is a Bible, there is your place in the pew, hold on, it will get rough…”
Years ago (and I mean, years and years and years), I man whom I respect a lot, used the phrase, “Vacuum cleaner evangelism…” We open the church doors, and expect them to be sucked in. And now we are paying the price for that mentality.
It is a good thing that there is a shortage of “ministers.” Maybe we will understand the responsibility of every member of the Body in the building up and edifying of that Body. And at the same time, for the continual growth of that Body!