In order to make disciples as Jesus intended, we must fulfill three components: Word, Relationship and Ministry.
The Word component involves teaching disciples to learn and obey all that Christ commanded and modeled throughout the Scriptures.
Jesus clearly showed His disciples the importance and use of the Scriptures, both in His own personal devotion and in winning others to Himself. Learning and obeying Scripture is essential for one’s growth as a disciple of Christ.
We live in a biblically illiterate Christian culture that believes Bible study and theological training somehow curtails devotion and passion. On the contrary – knowledge of God informs our worship of Him. It is key that we do not shrink away from teaching others to seriously study and meditate upon the Scriptures. Though, it is not enough just to know what the Bible says, we must live it out and teach our disciples to do the same. Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it (Luke 11:28).
This component of discipleship is building a relationship with our disciple that features love, commitment and intentionality.
Having called His disciples, Jesus made a practice of spending time with them. This was the essence of His training program: letting His disciples follow Him. Knowledge of Christ was gained by association before it was understood by explanation. Jesus ate with His disciples, slept next to them, and talked with them for most of His active ministry. Jesus did not treat His disciples like projects, but regarded them as image-bearers. In the same way, our disciples should know that they are loved, not only by Christ, but by us.
Jesus’ intentionality is something we must model when we make disciples. His ministry was not casual; it was deliberate. We must be purposeful and consistent in meeting with our disciples for training and fellowship.
Discipleship-relationships will not work unless you are both committed, not only to the vision of discipleship, but to Christ and to each other. Commitment is the bridge to intimacy and breeds authenticity, vulnerability and accountability.
We are not to just train disciples. We are to form loving relationships with them.
Service and evangelism dovetail together to form the Ministry component. Perhaps the most difficult thing for modern Christians is to engage in ministry. But if we are to disciple holistically, we must not only engage in service and evangelism, we must also teach and model service and evangelism.
Jesus never asked anyone to do or be anything which first He had not demonstrated in His own life. It is important that we realize that these early disciples really did not do much other than watch Jesus work for at least a year. The vision of ministry was kept before them by His activity.
Service is any work done with the motivation of honoring Jesus. This might be something as simple as intentionally buying a cup of coffee for a coworker. Though, let us not neglect caring for those who have been marginalized by society and affected by injustice, and making provisions for those who are hurting spiritually and physically. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Evangelism is the spreading of the gospel by public preaching or personal witness. God has called all believers to evangelize. He has entrusted us with the message of His reconciliation and has appointed us as His ambassadors to the fallen of the world (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
The fact is that most of us are not engaging in ministry, and if we are, we treat it more as an event than a lifestyle. This is why it is essential for us to train disciples in how to share their faith and actively serve others.
Next: Why We Disciple