DISCIPLE MAKING

Fleshing out Two Principles for Making Disciples

John B. MacDonald / Wednesday, September 23, 2020

 

My conviction has been stated before: Matthew’s gospel is a paradigm for making disciples of Jesus Christ.

This raises the question, “How can we engage Matthew for making disciples?

In partial answer, I will introduce two basic principles, and provide four means of application.

Two principles

(1) Disciple-makers are to model themselves after Jesus.

(2) Those being made disciples are to identify with the first disciples. Of course, disciple-makers are also disciples.

These principles recognize the continuing fundamental relationship between the ultimate disciple-maker, Jesus, and his disciples.

At Matthew 28:16-20, the remaining eleven are commissioned to make disciples just like Jesus made disciples – despite their failures and hesitancy. 

How do disciple-makers model themselves after Jesus, and how do disciples identify with the first disciples?

Here are four ways we can learn from Jesus and the Twelve for making disciples.

1.       Instructing

The disciple-maker teaches disciples. What is taught is grounded in Jesus’ life and teaching – and ought to be woven into the life of the disciple-maker.

An obvious instance of this is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Chapters 1-4 trace something of the early years of Jesus’ life. Then, at 5:1-2, Jesus “went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying: ...”

For their part, the disciples came to Jesus and listened carefully.

Each of Matthew’s major discourses have a similar purpose (chapters 10; 13; 19; 24-25).

Often, this is the sole way in which we engage disciples – not so with Jesus and his disciples.

2.       Observing

The disciples spent a lot of time with Jesus in the normal rhythms of life. They listened, watched, and learned from these experiences.

What were their impressions as they sailed in a storm with Jesus (8:25), or ate in the company of “sinners” with Jesus (9:10)? 

Here’s another scene (20:29-34):

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" 

The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" 

Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.

"Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." 

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. 

What lessons were inscribed on their memories and hearts from this incident?  What did they learn from Jesus’ response to the crowd, his healing touch, his compassion for the marginalized, and more.

Also consider 12:46-50; 19:13-15; 21:18-22

3.       Questioning

I am amazed at how many questions Jesus asked his disciples. 

Questions have a way of unlocking our thinking. Listening to teaching is largely passive – we simply receive information. Questioning makes us active participants. We are invited to engage, explore, and respond. 

In the context of Christian community, Jesus asks (18:12), 

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 

He is unlocking the thinking of the disciples on the value of each person. 

Here are some other questions Jesus asks his disciples: 16:13-15; 17:24-27

Questions are a two-way street. The disciples also asked Jesus many questions. 

The disciples’ questions reveal their level of comprehension, and what is needed for them to move forward. This does not always mean we answer the question asked. Often, Jesus answered the unspoken, more important, questions. 

Here’s a case in point (19:23-29): 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?

These questions manifest a warped view of wealth and the Kingdom.

Is wealth a basis for entry into the Kingdom? Or, are riches how one is rewarded in the Kingdom?

Jesus confronts this mindset, teaching “Kingdom economics” (19:28-20:16): “the last will be first, and the first will be last.” 

Other questions the disciples asked Jesus include: 13:10, 26; 15:23; 17:6-13, 16-20; 18:1-5; 19:23-29

Asking questions and encouraging questions are powerful tools for making disciples. 

4.       Doing

Have you noticed when disciples go and do something, they usually return excited?

Jesus sent his disciples on assignments that stretched and equipped them.

When I read Matthew 10, I’m not alone in thinking the disciples were being given a task that was too large and too soon. Jesus thought otherwise.

Here’s another situation. Thousands had followed Jesus far from restaurants and grocery stores (14:13-21).

As evening approached, the disciples came to [Jesus] and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food." 

Jesus brought the focus back to the disciples.

[Jesus] directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 

Other missions include 21:1-7; 26:36-46; 27:57-59; 28:16-20

Take-aways

We make a big mistake when we limit discipleship training to programs, or periodic chats at Starbucks. 

Disciple-makers: follow Jesus as your model for making disciples. Teach what Jesus taught; use questions the way that Jesus used questions; do the same kind of things with disciples as Jesus did. 

Disciples: identify with the Twelve. Come and be taught; observe and grow; respond to, and ask, questions; go and do the same kind of things as the Twelve. 

I have used the phrase “the same kind of things.” We may not encounter 5,000 hungry people in a remote place, or be commanded to walk on a stormy sea – but we will encounter hungry people without resources, and be commanded to do things we have never experienced before. 

We'll explore this idea of the “same kind of things” in a future post.

What do you have to add?


This article has been reposted with permission from Living TheologyIt originally appeared as an article within a series of blog posts called “Matthew Paradigm" You can access the entire blog series HEREYou can also read the next blog in this series “Disciple, what will you do?” HERE.


John B. MacDonald's focus is equipping and encouraging others to become more like Jesus Christ and to live all of life with God-honoring competence and joy. Since the 1970s, teaching the Bible and practical theology has taken John to four continents. In 2003, John chose between a busy practice in law and a full schedule of Bible teaching. His decision led to being pastor-teacher of a Metro-Vancouver church community, and now he continues serving, teaching, and writing with Outreach Canada. John B. MacDonald earned B.Com. and J.D. degrees (UBC), M.A. in Biblical Studies (Regent), and D.Min. (TWU). His doctoral dissertation combined his theological and legal backgrounds at the intersection of leadership, conflict, and spiritual formation. You can contact John B. MacDonald through his website Living Theology.


print



Taste of Weavers Taste of Weavers

Is there someone who you have wished you could connect with God? The Weavers way of engaging others...
Read More..

8 Qualities of Shepherd-Leaders 8 Qualities of Shepherd-Leaders

Here are eight qualities of a shepherd-leader we can learn from the good shepherd in John 10.
Read More..

Trinitarian Hospitality Trinitarian Hospitality

I have coined the phrase “Trinitarian Hospitality” to describe the mysterious truth that the triune...
Read More..

The Joy of Evangelism The Joy of Evangelism

If you’re like me, when someone starts talking about the need to get more involved in evangelism, t...
Read More..

Mobilizing Movements: An Interview Mobilizing Movements: An Interview

An interview with Murray Moerman, about his new book Mobilizing Movements. Murray speaks from his p...
Read More..

Mobilizing Movements to Jesus Christ Mobilizing Movements to Jesus Christ

The need of Christ above all is the impetus for the Great Commission, and the Great Commission is t...
Read More..

How Should We Then Live? How Should We Then Live?

The question is asked, “How do we move forward as a moral and ethical minority in a secular and plu...
Read More..

Opportunities & Threats for the Canadian Church: Whats Next? Opportunities & Threats for the Canadian Church: What's Next?

"What’s next?" is a big question. We may not know the next step, but do we know the right direction...
Read More..

Four Components of Disciple Making Movements Four Components of Disciple Making Movements

How can a disciple-making group lead to more groups and, perhaps, even to a disciple-making movemen...
Read More..

Stop Training People Stop Training People

Stop training.  You are probably wasting your time and that of those you are training!  Seriou...
Read More..

Whats Next? Hope Amidst the Mess What's Next? Hope Amidst the Mess

As we move into this next season, let’s not be surprised when things are messy or challenging. We n...
Read More..

Living in Hope Living in Hope

We are clinging to any sign of hope. Yet, it does not take long before we realize that these hopes ...
Read More..

The Relationship between Prayer & Witness The Relationship between Prayer & Witness

What is the role of prayer as we look to share our faith with others? I confess my tendency wh...
Read More..

Prompting of the Holy Spirit in the Early Church & our Neighbourhoods Prompting of the Holy Spirit in the Early Church & our Neighbourhoods

The early believers experienced the full scope of the Spirit’s working and speaking.  This sensitiv...
Read More..

7 Characteristics of Effective Witnesses 7 Characteristics of Effective Witnesses

Some of the most effective witnesses I've seen have surprised me. They don't look like what I imagi...
Read More..

What Crime Shows Teach Us about Being a Good Witness What Crime Shows Teach Us about Being a Good Witness

Growing up, I watched a lot of crime dramas and police shows and these days there are more of them ...
Read More..

How the Church can make Disciples...even in a Pandemic How the Church can make Disciples...even in a Pandemic

Disciple-Making Groups can be trained to function as small churches and can reproduce themselves mo...
Read More..

When You Feel like a Failure at Witnessing When You Feel like a Failure at Witnessing

Do you ever feel like me?  I know what I am supposed to do, but sometimes I feel guilty for not doi...
Read More..

Witness Witness

Being a witness to something extraordinary is nothing new. We witness the ordinary and extraordinar...
Read More..

What is The Church when it is not Meeting Publicly? What is The Church when it is not Meeting Publicly?

What does the church look like when no one is attending? Do we identify the church by the location,...
Read More..

Quebec: Presenting the Gospel to the Québécois Quebec: Presenting the Gospel to the Québécois

How to present the gospel to the Québécois without unnecessary religious trappings that can hide th...
Read More..

Fleshing out Two Principles for Making Disciples Fleshing out Two Principles for Making Disciples

How do disciple-makers model themselves after Jesus, and how do disciples identify with the first d...
Read More..

Singing and Living in Harmony Singing and Living in Harmony

Harmony and unity are costly, yet very worthwhile. It is SO worth it. In the long run we accomplish...
Read More..

3 Canadian Hymns 3 Canadian Hymns

Looking at the lyrics of 3 Canadian hymns, and reflecting on worship through music.  "It is no...
Read More..

A Community Living Toward Wholeness A Community Living Toward Wholeness

“Yes, I love Jesus Christ, but I don’t go to church.” Over the years, I’ve heard similar state...
Read More..

Why Canada Needs Biblical Hospitality Why Canada Needs Biblical Hospitality

Jesus demonstrated how one can balance the tension between pursuing holiness and being a friend of ...
Read More..

Hospitality in the Early Church Hospitality in the Early Church

Hospitality was one of the factors that led to the discipleship and rapid expansion of the early ch...
Read More..

...

Hospitality as Mission
"Our homes are becoming more and more important as a centre of mission. I would say, especially for our neighbours, our home is going to be the most important opportunity they have to meet Jesus." Chris explores ho...
Read more...
A Leader’s Personal Litmus Test
A ‘litmus test’ does not change the leader; it reveals the leader’s character. Here are three litmus tests a true leader can learn from Jesus. 
Read more...
Scripture Earth: Sharing the Gospel in Diverse Languages
The website, ScriptureEarth.org, containing one of the largest repositories of Bible resources available, is a hidden jewel in the toolbox for diaspora ministry in Canada!
Read more...
Taste of Weavers
Is there someone who you have wished you could connect with God? The Weavers way of engaging others in conversation may be what you’ve been looking for. Practical. Scripture Engagement. Oral learner-friendly. Conversati...
Read more...
8 Qualities of Shepherd-Leaders
Here are eight qualities of a shepherd-leader we can learn from the good shepherd in John 10.
Read more...
Trinitarian Hospitality
I have coined the phrase “Trinitarian Hospitality” to describe the mysterious truth that the triune God opens up His community to all who believe, and remarkably, God desires to be hosted by us. In a profound sense, God...
Read more...
The Joy of Evangelism
If you’re like me, when someone starts talking about the need to get more involved in evangelism, the first thought to come to mind isn’t ‘JOY’. Maybe its stress. Or guilt. Or shame. Or fear. Why do we feel that way? ...
Read more...
Mobilizing Movements: An Interview
An interview with Murray Moerman, about his new book Mobilizing Movements. Murray speaks from his personal experience as he shares wisdom for Christian leaders & ordinary Christians.
Read more...
Mobilizing Movements to Jesus Christ
The need of Christ above all is the impetus for the Great Commission, and the Great Commission is the reason for the church, her mission, and for the recent book Mobilizing Movements: Leadership Insights for Discipling...
Read more...
How Should We Then Live?
The question is asked, “How do we move forward as a moral and ethical minority in a secular and pluralistic society?” This is a good question for any generation. What does it mean to be “moral and ethical,” an...
Read more...
Opportunities & Threats for the Canadian Church: What's Next?
"What’s next?" is a big question. We may not know the next step, but do we know the right direction? We will move ahead whether we are prepared or not. But what are we expecting? Is it only our wish to see the “old...
Read more...
Four Components of Disciple Making Movements
How can a disciple-making group lead to more groups and, perhaps, even to a disciple-making movement in our culture?
Read more...
 

 

2 - 7201 72 Street Delta BC V4G 1M5