Welcome to Biblical Disciplemaking
Welcome to Biblical Disciplemaking.Net! The purpose of this website is take a fresh chronological look at the Gospels to discover how intentional Jesus was in making disciples.
I believe that our ecclesiology ought to first come out of our Christology. I first heard this saying from Dann Spader from Sonlife Ministries years ago. Our understanding of our church’s purpose, passion, product & process for making disciples must first come from the example of Jesus. This approach is affirmed by the writers of the epistles.
The Apostle John
“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” – 1 John 2:6
The Apostle Peter
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” – 1 Peter 2:21
The Apostle Paul
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1
Luke the Physician & Historian
“The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach” – Acts 1:1
Most Christians have heard of the finished work of Christ. Our sin debt was paid in full by the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. But the unfinished work of Christ is the work of making disciples of all nations. Jesus began that work (Acts 1:1) and we are to continue it to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8; Matt.28:19-20).
The Book of Acts is the story of the expansion of the church through disciplemaking. The Apostle Paul made disciplemaking a priority in his ministry.
“After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to
Antioch,” – Acts 14:21
Although God started a new thing called the church, it doesn’t mean He scrapped the three years that He invested in the lives of the disciples. Jesus was modeling how to make disciples, which prepared them to become the foundational leaders of the church (Eph.2:20). Even when they were looking for a replacement for Judas Iscariot after his death they were looking for someone that was familiar with the pattern of Jesus all the way back to John the Baptist (Acts 1:22).
If the Great Commission mandate to make disciples wasn’t the purpose of the church, it was purposeless for years. The first epistle that was written to the church was James, in many ways a reiteration of the teachings of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (AD 46). The second epistle written was Paul’s attempt to clarify the gospel according to Jesus in Galatians (AD 49). The third epistle that was written was 1 Thessalonians (AD 51). If the church started at Pentecost in AD 30 (Acts 2) and this is the only written revelation for the first 20 years of the church, it had no driving purpose. The only responsibilities with regard to church life in these early epistles was the role of elders with respect to the sick (Jms.5:13-16); an instruction on giving (Gal.6:6), and a word of encouragement to church members at Thessalonica to appreciate their leaders (1 Thess.5:11-12). Ephesians wasn’t written until AD 62, 1 Timothy AD 63, and Titus Ad 65.
Jesus without a doubt clearly modeled and established the process, pattern or strategy for His church. Robert Coleman expresses it well.
“The Master disclosed God’s Strategy of world conquest. That is why it is so important to observe the way Jesus maneuvered to achieve His objective. He had confidence in the future precisely because He lived according to that plan in the present. There was nothing haphazard about His life – no wasted energy, not an idle word. He was on business for God.”
– Robert Coleman, Master Plan of Evangelism
Dann Spader describes Jesus’ strategy in this way,
“In Christ’s life and in His Great Commission we can see a balance of winning, building and equipping. The result is a ministry that meets the needs of people at various levels of growth and development”.
There are 4 major phases of disciplemaking. The sections listed below correspond with the sections in the Thomas & Gundry Harmony of the Gospels.
Win Level of Disciplemaking [NASB Sec.31-46; NIV Sec.28-40]
Jesus started His ministry inviting seekers to the Win level of disciplemaking – “Come and See” (John 1:39). His ultimate objective was to see seekers delivered from their sin and become members in the family of God. Jesus spent nine months building a relationship with them as He exposed them to His words and works. After His early followers saw Him turn the water into wine, they “put their faith in Him” (John 2:11). He continued to spend time with them (Jn.3:22) with the goal of giving them a taste of ministry so they would want more.
Build Level of Disciplemaking [NASB Sec.47-63; NIV Sec.41-52]
Jesus then targeted this same group of seekers that became believers and invited them into the Build level of disciplemaking - “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). His ultimate goal at this level of disciplemaking was to develop them into mature believers who knew how to walk with God and could confidently share their faith as fishers of men. He showed them how, and they assisted Him. This level of disciplemaking took nine months.
Equip Level of Disciplemaking [NASB Sec.64-218; NIV Sec.53-149]
Jesus then, after an entire night in prayer, selected twelve (Lk.6:12,13) from many believers He had been working with at the build level and invited them to come and “be with Him” and to “send them out to preach” (Mk.3:13,14). This level of Disciplemaking targets the believer that has been established in his faith and equips him to be a worker (servant-leader). His ultimate goal at this level of disciplemaking was to deploy this worker in ministry with the competence (ministry skills) and character (life skills) needed to succeed. This level of disciplemaking took 18 months.
Multiply Level of Disciplemaking [NASB Sec.219- ; NIV Sec.150a-]
Jesus had accomplished the work that the Father had sent Him to do (Jn.17:4), namely, disciple a group of leaders that could duplicate or reproduce themselves. This resulted in a movement of multiplication! Jesus anticipated that these disciples would be life-long learners. The best leaders are learners. Jesus at this level of disciplemaking invites them to “Remain in Him” (Jn.15:4). These disciples would be fruitful and fulfilled as they abided in Him. Apart from Him they were powerless to bear fruit and duplicate themselves. They had learned all they could receive (Jn.16:12) and needed to launch this movement of multiplication. Jesus promised them that they would do greater works than He had done (Jn.14:12). Ministry at this level expands the church’s impact and extends the work of disciplemaking from Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria and ultimately to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
A successful church is not necessarily a big church or a busy church; it is a ministry that is regularly winning new people to Christ, building them in their faith and equipping them to disciple others. How successful is your church? My dream is that this website would help thousands of churches become more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission.
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