Discipleship, Just Do It?

In Matthew 28, Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations.  At SEND we are committed to planting reproducing churches among the unreached because the Church is God’s primary means for making disciples through the ages.  Without discipleship, church planting is reduced to shuffling sheep around and does not bring much glory to God.

My concern is that we are often ready to talk about discipleship, but much less ready to actually live it out.  I recently took part in a discipleship course in a local church.  We talked about discipleship and its importance in our lives and I expected that we would somehow start “doing it” but that didn’t really happen in a significant way.  Then I thought that perhaps we would “do it” after we had established a bit more of a foundation, but that did not really happen either.  In a personal conversation, a fellow member of the class asked me, “When will we actually disciple people”?  Great question, I thought, and perhaps you have asked similar questions.  Knowledge is an essential foundation but we must build something on that foundation, otherwise it is useless.  How can we apply our knowledge to actually “just do it” as a contemporary “philosopher” once said?

Step back for a minute and reflect on who is the best disciple maker you know?  Take some time and linger for a moment.  What characterizes their life and priorities?  … For me the first person that comes to mind is my youth group leader and his wife.  They poured their lives into the lives of us kids in a true servant manner.

In church planting, I see two major models of discipleship come to the fore.  The first is a deep investment in a very small circle.  Greg Ogden in his seminal book, Transforming Discipleship describes his approach as, “making disciples a
few at a time.” His companion book, Discipleship Essentials provides materials to work through with two other people in a triad.  After a year, each one of the three starts their own triad, thus starting a group with exponential growth potential.  Some of my SEND coworkers in Poland have used this approach, as have others in WorldTeam, and have found it helpful.

The second major approach is exemplified by David Garrison in his book, Church Planting Movements (CPM).  In this approach, rapid multiplication is central, where each disciple shares with and disciples others immediately after being taught themselves.  Garrison summarizes the John and Hope Chen’s Training for Trainers material (T4T).
The new version of T4T incorporates the Storying method and is called ST4T.  The T4T approach effectively addresses the “just do it” frustration we started out our blog with, but it is at times criticized for being a bit shallow as those multiplying may not themselves be solidly established.

What do you think?
What does Jesus mean when he calls us to make disciples of all

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