How to Make a Disciple of Jesus

Recently a missionary asked me how to make a disciple of Jesus. He said, “I am trained in evangelism and church-planting but I do not know how to make a disciple.”

First, we must know what a disciple of Jesus is. A disciple of Jesus is someone that has decided to live his life like Jesus did.

Second, Jesus demonstrated for us how to make disciples as recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Following Jesus is an imitative process. Jesus lived among the twelve disciples for them to see how he lived so that they could emulate him.

Twenty years later the apostle Paul used this same pattern in making disciples of Jesus. Paul and his team would live among the people so that they could imitate him and his team. He writes:

“You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord . . . And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” 1 Thessalonians 1:5&6

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1

Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.” 1 Corinthians 4:16-17

“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”   Philippians 3:17-18

Jesus is our model. Each disciple-maker configures his life after Jesus to demonstrate for his disciple how a disciple of Jesus should live. Paul imitated Jesus and was a role model for Timothy to follow and then Timothy in turn became an example for others to follow.

Author Panel: Discipleship

Today in our three-author panel, authors R. E. Clark, Paul Juby, and myself offer our thoughts on discipleship, practicing faith, and serving as missionaries. I’m excited to post the Missionary section below and hopefully begin a discussion among readers. Please leave comments below and visit the other two authors’ blogs to read through the rest of the panel.

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Companionship and Learning Builds the Church – Not the Other Way Around

My greatest desire currently is to see the Kingdom of God engage with Chicago – our hometown. This will only happen by way of the followers of Jesus loving one another.  Although loving one another may seem like an inward focus, it is in reality an outward connection point with society.

Jesus addresses this kingdom principle twice. First he tells his disciples that everyone will know that they are his disciples by their love for one another (John 13:34-35). Then, later in the same evening, Jesus prayed for his disciples, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even you have loved me” John 17.23). In other words, our unity is a testimony to the culture that the Father sent Jesus into the world and that the Father loves his children.

Christianity has tried many approaches to engage society. We have retooled our church services to be more relevant, served the city through community projects; we have become involved in politics and launched media campaigns. Though I do not question the sincerity behind these efforts, I have wondered about their effectiveness.

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Hindrances to Making a Disciple of Jesus in Today’s World

An obstacle to making followers of Jesus in America is America’s aversion to deep friendship. Sociologists Stewart and Bennett have observed:

Although Americans have numerous relationships that are marked by friendliness and informality, they only rarely form the kinds of deep and lasting friendships in which friends become mutually dependent upon each other.[1]

God is relational. The insularly existence so natural to Americans is unnatural to God. Jesus came to earth and demonstrated the beauty of friendship in his relationships with men and women.  It was not only through his instruction that his followers learned how to love and to be loved but also through the experience of him laying down his life for them. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13

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