“You can come to church, sit, leave, and NEVER be impacted by another life. That’s tragic, you know?” —Charles R. Swindoll
Time for a pop quiz. What is a disciple?
a) Someone who has completed a 10-week Bible study course
b) A Christian leader
c) A knowledgeable Christian
d) A zealous Christian
e) A Christian who listens to spiritual music
The answer? None of the above. Surprised? Don’t be! Never has a word been so overused yet so misunderstood. Although the topic of discipleship has been overworked, it’s an under-applied concept. Most of us are still spectators when it comes to ministry. It’s not only unwise and unhealthy, it’s unbiblical. Let’s focus our attention on what the Lord said in His Great Commission in Matthew 28:16–20 and learn what it means to live as a true disciple.
Discipleship is more than just another church program. Jesus Christ has established discipleship as the method by which He plans to fulfil His mission to grow His church. And how does He plan to grow His church? Through Christians as they live out Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:16–20 to go, baptize, and teach others all that Jesus said while He lived on earth.
In order for Jesus’ plan to multiply disciples to come to fruition, He chose to invest His life and teaching into 12 men. And they, in turn, were to pass His teachings on to others—to disciple others. So, choosing these men could not be left to a random recruiting project. Jesus needed to select each one personally. And He didn’t pick the brightest, most well educated, or wealthiest men. He chose common, humble labourers to walk with Him and learn from Him. But before they could begin ministry, they had to spend time with Jesus. That’s where discipleship, and all ministry, begins. And the disciples—unsophisticated and coarse in the eyes of the religious leaders—could speak with boldness and conviction because they had been in the presence of the Lord (Acts 4:5–12).
Diligent study, fellowship, and church involvement all contribute to growing in Christ. But sometimes we see these activities as an end in themselves. Remember, the goal of discipleship is to know Christ better, to be like Him, and to make Him known.