The criteria for any church’s success is obedience to Jesus’ commands. The last command Jesus gave to the church was to make disciples.
- Church budgets and money raised apart from making disciples is a failure.
- Maintaining and manufacturing buildings apart from making disciples is a failure.
- Ministries we organize inside or outside the building apart from making disciples is a failure.
- Songs sung and music played apart from making disciples is a failure.
- Sermons preached and lessons taught apart from making disciples is a failure.
Failing to make disciples is failing Jesus.
Kevin Ezell, President of the North American Mission Board, said that the greatest obstacle to planting churches today is not a lack of funds, but a lack of qualified planters. Southern Baptists claim 16 million adherents in 42,000 churches, and we have a problem finding 500 qualified planters? Only 1 of every 320,000 Southern Baptists —1 planter out of every 840 churches—needs to become a church planter in order to have more planters than we can support. How are we not producing even that many? (JD Greear)
David Platt, President of the International Mission Board recently notified Southern Baptists of their financial shortfall that we will have to bring home hundreds of our 5000 missionaries around the world. The greater point is that 5000 missionaries is a fraction of a percent (.0003) of the 16 million members of the SBC. How are we not producing even 1% to become international missionaries; much less not supporting the fraction of percent that are in the mission field?
It is clear there is a discipleship deficit. Making disciples is not about crowd attraction but equipping an army of Jesus followers to reproduce additional followers.
How do we make disciples?
- Be a disciple.
- See people.
- Select disciples.
- Shape disciples.
- Send disciples… to repeat the process.
EXAMINE Luke 6:12-16; Mark 3:13-15 SELECT DISCIPLES
Matthew 10:2-4 “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.”
Luke 6:12-16 12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew,15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Mark 3:13-19 13And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Acts 1:13-14 “And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Selecting disciples requires substantial prayer (Luke 6:12)
Jesus had crowds of disciples due to His teaching the Scriptures, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing various afflictions. The three years of Jesus’ public ministry was important not for just teaching about God but for training specific disciples to carry on His ministry. Before the selection of specific disciples Jesus spent substantial time in prayer.
In some sense Jesus was organizing His team or hiring a staff. These individuals would spend a great deal of time together but they also would do a lot of work together.
- For leaders of jobs and ministries: who you put around you will say a lot about you as much as it will say about your organization.
- When hiring a team you not only want them to be good leaders and thrive but also not be a traitor; you expect loyalty. 11 of 12 disciples were loyal, but that was also part of Jesus’ plan too.
- Jesus went out to the mountain.
This region had lots of hills and mountains nearby. Jesus is frequently withdrawing from the city crowds to rest and retreat.
à Where is your secret place of retreat and encounter with God?
- As a teen mine was either a dirt basketball court tucked in a neighborhood, or a walk in the woods.
- Now its my home bedroom (reason why we chose on Magothy).
- Jim Benson in a tree stand.
- Jesus prayed all night.
I remember a handful of times being awake all night. Most each of these times I was glad for doing them in the moment but the next day was always horrendous.
- youth group functions
- pastoring youth group functions
- night of Eddie Murray’s 500 hr
- in college I perfected it with lots of card playing
- in seminary writing papers
Jesus prayed for the selection of each of His disciples. What can you imagine that implies for us today, as Jesus lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25)? Most certainly it means that Jesus cares greatly, we are loved deeply, and we are led fully by our Savior. There is not a moment of our life that is beyond the thought and prayers of Jesus. Who else can you say that about in your life – no one but Jesus!
Whenever Jesus faced highly significant moments it would be in the context of His praying (cf. 3:21; 9:18, 28–29; 11:1; 22:41). Jesus’ prayer model becomes normative for later Christian appointments to office (Acts 1:24; 6:6; 13:2–3; 14:23).
à When is last time you spent 12 hours in prayer? 2 hours? 20 minutes? 2 minutes? – Convicting?
à Your praying and asking for prayer matters much more than you realize.
Selecting disciples requires specific limitations (Luke 6:12-13).
Jesus called and chose 12 disciples, appointed (εποιησεν – appointed, created) them to be apostles. Again, Jesus had crowds following but He limited His core disciples to twelve in number. They were as follows:
- Simon Peter: A fisherman (ordinary); a bit impulsive (spoke freely); learner (failures weren’t final); courageous (preached boldly); leader (early church, gave content for Gospel of Mark); martyr (died crucified upside down).
- Andrew: A fisherman and brother to Peter (ordinary); youth worker (attentive to boy with 5 loaves and two fish)
- James: A fisherman & brother of John, son of Zebedee (ordinary); martyr (Acts 12:2).
- John: A fisherman and brother of James; Boarneges – sons of thunder (strength beloved disciple of Jesus and caretaker of His mom – John 21; or perhaps violent – wanted to cast fire upon Samaritans for rejecting Jesus); elder of apostles – Gospel, Epistles, Revelation.
- Philip: early follower of Jesus; shared faith to Nathaniel in John 1:45; was a logical statesman among Apostles (cf. Jn 6:5-7; 12:20-23; 14:8).
- Matthew: tax collector (Matt 9:11)
- Thomas: was a twin (Jn 11:16; 20:24; 21:2); sometimes bold in faith wanting to go die with Jesus in Jerusalem (Jn 11:16), or calling Jesus “my Lord and my God” (Jn 20:26); and other times questioned or doubted in faith (Jn 14:5; 20:25)
- James son of Alphaeus – brother of Joses and son of Mary
- Simon the Zealot
- Judas son of James (or Thaddeus) – questioned Jesus about His future kingdom (Jn 14:22)
- Judas Iscariot – who became a traitor – in charge of money but manipulative (Jn 12:25-26) and betrayed Jesus for money.
When selecting individuals to minister or disciple, Jesus looked beyond one’s background, intellectual ability, social status, and even physical condition. Jesus was open-minded and Spirit-directed as He sought whom to disciple. Jesus’ equipping method included selecting individuals who were desperate and devoted. Admission of need for saving from sin and desire to grow are starting characteristics for a disciple.
à Disciplemaking is limited to a small amount of people in order to invest a significant amount of time.
“Jesus invested more in the committed few than in the curious many.” Jesus understood a basic principle of training and teaching: “The more concentrated the size of the group being taught, the greater the opportunity for learning.” The relationships between Jesus and His disciples allowed for in-depth training and personal accountability.
- 1 on 1
- Relies on a single expert; a hierarchical approach.
- Relies on a single person’s availability and sustainability.
- Can rely on less expertise and more on discussion.
- Creates a shared experience and increased perspective for support and strength; by default contains greater community.
- Emphasizes exploration and discovery rather than one-way learning.
- Groups 4-12
- Values community
- Vision for multiplication
- – Note Jesus’ modeling a ‘community of communities’ approach of calling 12 disciples while devoting specific and special time among 3 (Peter, James, John – Mark 5:37-42; Matt 17:1-13; Mark 14:32-34).
- Groups 13+
- Crowd teaching with less discussion
- Crowd is tempted to remain nameless and never become part of the core
à Disciplemaking is about intention not addition.
Disciple-making relationships have the vision of not only attracting people to a church building but engaging environments that are unlikely to know about the gospel. It is not another item to calendar on your schedule but is a regular flow of life. Selecting persons for disciple-making relationships should be as natural as those whom are involved in one’s daily or weekly lifestyle. One can consider inviting neighbors to meals, or co-workers to conversations beyond the work place. Belonging to associations, clubs, groups are helpful ways to meet and invest relationally. Walking where people are like playgrounds, parks, pools, or other public areas are casual opportunities to become introduced to people. Daily life as a follower of Jesus demands the “as you go” nature of making disciples (Matthew 28:19).
Todd Engstrom writes about disciples having a “third place” to engage people on neutral ground and natural environments that are informal and non-committal. Being regularly present in these environments one can see the vast amounts of people to engage for potential selection for disciple-making. Frequenting a place helps one to stand out and develop relationships with other regular customers and employees. In all, disciple-making is about relationships and not a pre-packaged formula for sharing the gospel.
àIf you are ready to disciple others, who are 4 others who you will initiate a conversation about their entering a group with you for Christian disciple-making? Select no more than 4 people, for a total of 5 in the group. This enables the group dynamics to be personal and readiness for multiplication growth.
– Selecting for what? To be with Jesus (Mark 3:13-15)
Selecting disciples requires specific purposes (Mark 3:13-15)
Mark’s Gospel provides the purpose for which Jesus called the disciples.
- to be with him
- that he might send them out to preach
 Crow, D. Michael, “Multiplying Jesus Mentors”, Missiology: An International Review, Vol. XXXVI, no. 1, January 2008, 91.
 Neil Cole, Cultivating A Life For God, 40-41. Also Randy Pope, Insourcing, 135.
 Crow, 92.
 Robert Coleman, The Great Commission Lifestyle: Transforming Your Life to Kingdom Priorities (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1992), 59.
 McCallum & Lowery, Organic Friendship, 55.
 Ogden, The Complete Book of Discipleship 69.
 Todd Engstrom. 2013. “Missional Community Practices – Third Place.” April 3. Accessed November 20, 2014. http://toddengstrom.com/2013/04/03/missional-community-practices-third-place/