A Progressive Approach to Making Disciples1
If you've been with us at Redeemer Church for a bit, you may have heard us use the term "disciple-making disciple" as a way to encapsulate what we believe is our role as followers of Jesus in our God-created, fallen, yet redeemed and soon to be restored world. As I've explained elsewhere, as we seek to follow Jesus in his mission of redemption for the world, we are to draw upon the awesome power of the Holy Spirit to make disciples of Jesus, just as he did when he was on earth.
One of the main passages of Scripture that we draw upon to understand this role of ours is Matthew 28:16-20, commonly known as The Great Commission. In this passage we are commissioned by Jesus to make disciples with his ever-present, authoritative power that is available to us until he returns. It is a tremendous passage with much to glean from, and I wish we could get into it. But I draw our attention to it simply to help us see that Jesus' disciple-making mission has become our disciple-making mission. What God has accomplished in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection we are to now apply, by the power of the Holy Spirit, until he returns to bring God's kingdom to a complete restoration. As redeemed disciples, this is our wonderful privilege!
However, I assume that we are all aware of how difficult this actually is. Although we have everything we need to be used by the Holy Spirit to apply Jesus' accomplished work, we find it very difficult to incorporate this responsibility into our day-to-day lives. There are many possible reasons for this. And although I can't get into them in this post, it is worth considering whether or not issues such as lack of biblical knowledge on this topic, lack of concern for the glory of God and/or the salvation of the lost, fear of man, etc. contribute to a lack of vision and desire for disciple-making that Jesus wants us to share with him.
But what I want to do over the next several weeks is try to help us see how we can make disciples in our day-to-day lives. The reality is that most, if not all, of us live routine, mundane lives. I want us to see that this is precisely where Jesus wants us to follow him in making disciples. My desire and prayer over these next several weeks is to provide a progressive, step-by-step way to approach our wonderful privilege and responsibility of making disciples in the very routine and mundane lives that God has placed us. And I believe that if we intentionally move through this progression in our relationships with unbelievers, God will give us great joy in living out our purpose as disciple-making disciples of Jesus.
First, a couple of disclaimers: (1) This is not a surefire way to guarantee anything. Only God can effectively draw people to Himself, and only God can save. Although I believe this approach is one that can keep us from creating unnecessary barriers between our lost friends and God (see 1 Cor. 9:19-23 for wisdom about this), there is no surefire methodology for salvation (see John 3:8). (2) This is not original material (God forbid!). What follows comes from years of study and prayer, and I hope to show you how each step in this progression aligns with both Scripture and wisdom in reaching people in our culture. I can consciously point to a couple of resources that have shaped my thoughts here, and will be happy to pass them along if anyone is interested (that said, I don't believe I'm plagiarizing anyone).
So, here is what I believe to be a helpful 7-step progression in how we can all grow in making disciples. I will list them here, and over the next seven weeks I will expand on these ideas to try and help you see how you can apply them in your God-ordained, wonderfully grace-saturated mundane lives. Here they are:
1. Touch - We begin the disciple-making process when we touch base or make
initial, intentional, and engaging contact with an unbeliever.
2. Talk - After winsomely touching base with this person, we then seek to simply
talk with him or her in a casual but engaging way.
3. Table - After we establish a conversational relationship with someone, we can
then invite them into our lives, which is often most profoundly present at our
dinner (or breakfast/lunch) table.
4. Teach - As we grow in our relationship with this person, we must consciously
teach him or her about the gospel by explaining how it applies to our daily
5. Tie- As we grow in our disciple-making relationship with an unbeliever, we need to seek to tie him or her into our network of relationships with believers in the church.
6. Trust - As our unbelieving friend hears how the gospel changes us and sees it
lived out in the life of the church, we need to boldly and lovingly call him or her
to place his or her trust in Jesus, and Jesus alone, for their salvation.
7. Train - When by God's grace we make a disciple of Jesus, we need to train
him or her to make disciples as well.
I hope this helps to stir you up with a glorious vision of disciple-making with and for Jesus. With this in mind, please do two things: (1) Pray that the Lord would show you from Scripture and the internal testimony of His Spirit (not from my list!) the glorious and privileged ministry of disciple-making; and (2) as you pray for this, pray that the Lord brings one or two people to mind that He wants you to reach out to with the vision and purpose of making disciples of them.
More in Redeemer Blog
January 28, 2020You Can't Know What You Don't Know
October 30, 2019When are the Glory Days: Lessons Learned from Heartland Part Two
October 29, 2019When are the Glory Days? Lessons Learned from Heartland, Part One