The process of making a disciple was modeled perfectly by Jesus Christ and the 12. While good books and resources abound (see below), they offer little practical guidance in making a disciple of Jesus Christ. One of the key things to remember in all of this is that a true disciple is someone who has a balance of LEARNING and DOING. It does no good to fill someone’s head full of theological knowledge only to have them do nothing with it. Jesus equipped the disciples for ministry work. Jesus took three years to train the 12, so don’t get into a huge hurry.
The following is what I know so far on the subject.
- Not everyone who claims to know Christ is a disciple. The Bible tells us that many who were following Jesus stopped when the teaching or the situation became too difficult. Matt 19:22, 26:69-75
- Who should you choose?
- Must be a believer who is willing to sacrifice time, resources, and personal comfort to minister to others.
- You must decide if you are training the person for ‘Word ministry’ (are you aiming at the goal of having them teach the Bible) or service ministry?
- Someone who will take what they’ve been taught and teach it to others.
- The person’s life must be marked by humility and eagerness to learn and grow. Often times, people who grew up in religion do not fit in this category.
2. Evaluate & Plan
- The next step after choosing a person to disciple is to find out where they are in their walk with Christ. In order to minister effectively, they must have a basic understanding of the big picture of the Bible (who God is, who we are, why we need a Savior, etc). There are two good tools to use to accomplish this, 1) the WDA Christian Growth Checklist, and 2) Apprentice Development Planner (Appendix 3 of ‘Passing the Baton’)
- After evaluating the disciple, it is time to design a custom plan for them to develop the skills that are lacking. Don’t be afraid to supplement with books with which you are already familiar. Make sure the plan includes reading in the Bible.
- The plan should also include practical training (real-life ministry opportunities like preaching, teaching, organizing an event, evangelistic activity, spiritual disciplines, etc). The idea is that you will step the person through how to do it the first time, have them document how it was done, then release them to try it on their own.
- Put the plan in writing with target dates.
3. Model &Pour
- One of the greatest aspects to being a good disciple-builder is for you to be a good disciple yourself. You should model what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in your own walk.
- Pour your life into the disciple. Be transparent. Tell them what you know. Share your struggles. Pray regularly together.
- Meet on a routine basis to check to see how the plan is going, the struggles of the disciple, and for encouragement.
4. Train & Test
- Provide ministry tasks and evaluate honestly. You may use the Formal Assessment Form (Appendix 4 in ‘Passing the Baton’)
- The best thing you can do with the disciple at this point is to be brutally honest. It does the disciple no good for you to tell them they are doing fine when they are really not.
- The disciple should not work toward being perfect, but instead being faithful to the task.
- Based on their gifting, send them into ministry on their own when they are ready.
- They should immediately begin seeking someone to disciple themselves (ideally, someone they’ve led to the Lord).
6. Check Up
- Periodically, check on them to see how they are doing and encourage them
- With Christ in the School of Disciple Building – An Study of Christ’s Method of Building Disciples by Carl Wilson
- Test, Train, Affirm, and Send Into Ministry: Recovering the Local Church’s Responsibility in the External Call (Ministering the Master’s Way) by Brian Croft
- Passing the Baton – A Handbook for Ministry Apprenticeship by Colin Marshall
- Multiply by Francis Chan
- Basics for Believers – An Exposition of Philippians by D.A. Carson
- Sonlife Classic