What Makes a Disciple?

I would like to suggest that two of the most important questions followers of Jesus will need to answer along their journey with Him are:

  1. What is a disciple?
  2. How does one make a disciple?

Given that Jesus’s famous last words were “go into all the world and make disciples,” these questions deserve our time and consideration.

It was about ten years ago, while reading the Great Commission in Panera Bread Company, when I confessed that it was not “great” in my heart. That day in Panera, I knew Jesus was helping me to r-eprioritize His call to make disciples. I soon realized that I would need to define “disciple” and then learn how I was supposed to make one. These two initial questions led to other questions like, “Do I make disciples by getting people to go to church?”  “Do I make disciples by doing a Bible study with someone?”  “Doesn’t discipleship happen naturally as I live out my faith daily the best I can?” “How do I make disciples of Jesus and not me?”

I had been a Christian a long time before taking time to address these questions. Up until this point, I had participated in and even led a bunch of spiritual stuff (meetings, programs, etc.) with the hope that some of it stuck on the wall of discipleship. I do believe that, despite me, God has probably used some of my frenzied activity to make disciples. As of late, however, I have been under the conviction to allow the answers I find in the life and ministry of Jesus about the Great Commission to dictate my time and activities and even how I serve in the local church. In others words, the question of “How is one to make a disciple?” has been changed to “How is one to make disciples in light of how Jesus made disciples?”

If followers of “The Way” followed His way of making disciples and allowed His approach to fulfilling the Great Commission inform our leadership practices and our church activities, how would they be different? How might the church look different to an unbelieving world? How would you and your family’s life, calendar, and church activities look different?

My prayer is that your answer to these questions would be “not much.” However, if you are like me and find these questions and the way of Jesus calling you to a different way of living and making disciples, then I pray you lean into what God is saying! May we all trust Him to guide and provide for us as we chart a new course.

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