How are disciples of Jesus made?
New disciples are birthed when I die to my life and place others ahead of myself by serving them. It is not the act of service itself that changes the disciple; rather it is the death to self occurring in the discipler that produces spiritual life in the disciple. Jesus gives us the key to kingdom multiplication in John 12 when he says to his disciples:
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:23-26)
Paul viewed his ministry in this same way when he writes: “…so then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Corinthians 4:12). It is critical that a servant’s heart is cultivated in each disciple in order that the multiplication of the kingdom will continue. Most church growth strategies focus on expansion on a corporate or group level. Either churches begin other churches or a small group multiplies my growing numerically and then dividing. I believe that Jesus intended for kingdom expansion to be on the individual level; each disciple producing another disciple.
How long should I serve a disciple, especially when there does not seem to be any progress?
This life change and multiplication process in a disciple will take longer than you thought it would and requires the discipler to patient. The disciple is often unaware of the significance of being served by his discipler until later. Jesus served the twelve for three years and yet on the night before his crucifixion the disciples were still debating among themselves who was the greatest (Luke 22:24). Once again the Lord used this opportunity to instruct and demonstrate the kingdom value of a servant’s heart. To be a follower of Jesus is to be servant.