The Second Piece of the Great Commission: Go and make Disciples
Mike’s Note: This is the second in a series of posts detailing the PDBTW acronym of the Great Commission.
I have a particular heart for discipleship, because of my experiences on both sides of discipleship. I’ve been discipled by Godly men and I’ve had the pleasure to disciple men who wanted my input in their lives. In my opinion, there is no greater need within the Church than men and women who know how to disciple and have a heart to disciple.
So what is discipleship? Actually, I have an easy definition that has always served me well. Discipleship is the process by which a Christian with a life worth emulating commits himself for an extended period of time to a few individuals who have been won to Christ, the purpose being to aid and guide their growth to maturity and equip them to reproduce themselves in a third spiritual generation.
I love this definition because it is the most thorough I’ve ever seen. You can see that there are several parts to this: First, we must have a Christian with a life worth emulating. Second, this process takes time. I often laugh when churches have a ‘discipleship class,’ because effectiveness in discipleship is measured in years. Thirdly, those who have been won to Christ must then be guided into growth to maturity, and finally, the ultimate goal, which is those being discipled reproducing themselves in a third spiritual generation.
It is this process that Jesus commands us to do in Matthew 28, to make disciples in all nations. Here’s a few thoughts about why discipleship is such an important part of the PDBTW process of the Great Commission:
1. Christianity doesn’t grow without discipleship
The founder of The Navigators, Dawson Trotman, tells a story in his booklet, Born to Reproduce, about how in the 1930’s, he often would pick up hitchhikers as a means of evangelism in Southern California. After doing this for many years, he happened to pick up the same guy that he had one year before. This man had been led to Christ by Dawson using a evangelistic tract. After one year, with no further input from anyone, this man was no closer to maturity in Christ. It was then that Dawson knew that follow-up is so key in the life of a Christian.
2. There’s a big difference between a disciple and a convert
Converts change religions. Disciples change masters. Converts follow a system. Disciples follow a Person. Converts embrace rituals. Disciples embrace a way of life. Converts love the command to “baptize them” in the Great Commission, but that is all. Disciples baptize others but only in context of “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Converts love conversion. Disciples love transformation.
3. We literally can reach the whole world through discipleship
I remember when I first came on the staff of The Navigators in 1994, hearing a analogy that has always stuck with me. I believe it’s the reason that Jesus was so adamant about making disciples. Here’s how the analogy goes: Let’s say that I was able to see one person every year come to know Jesus and then be discipled into maturity. At the end of that one year, it would be me and the new Christian disciple. During year two, he and I go and find one more to reach and disciple. Starting year three, we then have four. Us for reach and disciple one person each, and so forth. At the end of 32 years, every person on planet Earth would be reach and discipled for Jesus. Certainly, although the analogy is not completely realistic, it shows you the impact one person with a heart for discipleship can have!
So what about you? is God calling you to invest your live in the life of another? Ministries like The Navigators have many tools to help you learn how to disciple others. May I challenge you today to jump with both feet into the exciting world of discipleship! By doing so, you’re accomplishing Great Commission work!