Jesus was The Book for making disciples. Those twelve chosen men just had to watch and listen over the course of their three years with the Master.
Does it still work like that today? After all, he told us to go and make disciples, right?
In over thirty-five years in ministry, in over six different countries, I can honestly say that my own efforts at obeying this great commission have taken many forms. From one-on-one relationship and study to small groups; from using only the Bible to using a systematic study guide; from discipling literate to non-literate believers, I’ve tried it all, and God has blessed. There is nothing like watching a new believer grow in their faith in Christ.
Though Jesus may no longer be “in the flesh” himself, he’s certainly able to reveal himself in the flesh through me. The words he spoke to his disciples, I can now speak by repeating those they recorded for our benefit. I can use his Word as my guide, with the Holy Spirit interpreting directly to me and the other disciples present.
On top of all that, he’s used more modern, gifted writers to help us in our task. My late husband and I used several trusted writers’ works over the years, many translated into the Arabic we needed:
- Ralph Neighbour, The Survival Kit for New Christians.
- Avery Willis, MasterLife
- Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God
When we struggled to find something written specifically for the new believers coming from a Muslim background, I wrote my own resource, Created for Relationship.
Whether you choose to simply work with the Bible or get help from a systematic study, discipleship is about laying the groundwork for a person to continue in growth. Helping them to learn the basics of how to study the Bible, pray, become part of a church fellowship, and witness are all aspects to be included in the early days.
One crucial part of every relationship is to make the new believer aware that Satan will be on the attack. If there is anything the devil doesn’t like, it’s for a person to put their life into the hands of Christ; so, it’s our job to help them realize there will be struggles. The sooner we work with them to get their foundation firmly set in the habits of Bible study, prayer, and fellowship, the stronger they’ll be against the inevitable darts of the evil one.
In the end, discipleship is not about a system, but about a relationship—first, their relationship with Christ, then your relationship with them as a fellow believer and mentor, and ultimately their continued relationship with other believers, the church. The discipleship relationship you have with them will be the one they too will model with others.
Jesus said his disciples would do “even greater things” than he was doing; so too, will those you disciple to his glory.
Go, now, and make disciples to grow in
Grace and Peace