Summary: Discipleship is the key to effective ministry in the church. Nothing we can do has more potential to change the world than making disciples.
We are called to make disciples. It is the heart of our Lord’s Commission for His church. Jesus said:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19,20)
We fulfill the Great Commission only as we develop students and adults into faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, too many converts lose their faith because they are never led to maturity and service in the body of Christ.
Discipleship is the key to effective ministry in the church. Nothing we can do has more potential to change the world than making disciples.
According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, “A disciple of Christ is one who: 1) believes His doctrine; 2) rests on His sacrifice; 3) imbibes His spirit; and 4) imitates His example (Matthew 10:24; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 6:69). In other words, a disciple is someone who is growing spiritually.
A disciple: 1) is obedient to God’s Word (John 8:31); 2) loving (John 13:35); 3) fruitful (John 15:8); 4) always prepared to share the hope of life in Christ (2 Timothy 4:2); and 5) lives the Gospel (2 Corinthians 3:2,3).
In writing to the Corinthian church about their not growing in Christ-likeness, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly - mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)
Immature Christians are "worldly," controlled by their own desires; spiritually mature disciples are in tune with God’s desires. A spiritually mature disciple wants God’s desires to be their own.
The goal of discipleship is to make disciples who can then make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded: “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:4:13-15).
Jesus brought clear understanding to what it meant to be a disciple when He said: “Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The Apostle Paul echoed this way of life when he said: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19).
Disciple-makers are to lead people to Christ and help them mature spiritually. Disciple-makers have an intense love, concern and lifelong care for those to whom they are spiritual parents. When we lead people to Christ, we are to stand by them, helping them grow until they are fully trained.