Strategy for Grace – Growing Disciple-Makers
Timing is everything in life. It’s a New Year and time to start afresh. 2012 is behind. 2013 is ahead. Timing is everything.
In 1976, I was serving on a beach project with a Christian organization at Newport Beach, CA. Yes, Newport Beach, CA, where the weather is almost perfect, and the surf is often great. I worked at 601 Lido, a luxury condominium, on the graveyard shift as a security guard. After sleeping for a few hours I went body surfing before our evening meeting and witnessing on the beach.
Back at the University the next year, I was in Woody Johnson’s discipleship group and we met every week to go on campus to witness and to discuss discipleship. I was discipling three guys: Tim, Bill and Brian. We went to LTC, Leadership Training Class, every Tuesday night for encouragement and additional biblical discipleship insights. One of the most important concepts Woody taught me was to cast a vision for men to follow. Show them where you are going and let them decide to follow. When they choose to follow, under the Holy Spirit, nothing will stop them.
That’s the intention of the State of the Church messages – casting vision for how 80% of the church can be a part of the reproduction process – to multiply disciples. How do you set up a model whereby 80% of the people see how they can take reasonable steps and reproduce? We are reproducing, but I want to help 80% spiritually reproduce. What do you need to make committed disciples?
There are two things necessary to make committed disciples. First, understand what a committed disciple is and secondly, understand the four keys to develop disciple-making. Let’s look at what a committed disciple is.
Understand what a committed disciple is: What is a disciple? A basic definition of a disciple is a “Learner, or follower.” Dr. Dwight Pentecost and Dr. Fruchtenbaum describe three kinds of disciples: the curious, convinced and committed. (cf. John 1:43-46; 2:1-2; 2:22; Matt 4:18-22)
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Mat 4:18-22)
This was not the first time Jesus invited the disciples to follow Him. This time they made a conscious, committed decision. The text says they immediately followed Jesus. It sounds like the expression we teach children, “Right away, all the way, with a happy heart.” We don’t know the disciples said it, but they did with their actions.
We need to look at Matthew 4:19 to see what a committed disciple is. Matthew 4:19 says, “And He said to them,
“and I will make you
“fishers of men.”
A committed disciple is:
· Committed to following Jesus.
o A great passage on this is Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” A committed disciple will say Jesus is my Master, my Lord, my Head. I willingly submit to His control in my life. He died for me. I want to serve Him. I am and have nothing apart from His work in my life. Without Him, at best I have the glitter of the world, at best I can find temporary happiness; at worst I’m headed to the Lake of Fire. It’s His plan, His authority, His direction and His life that I live to be His disciple. I’m sold out for Jesus Christ.
o Two other great passages are Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” And one other great passage on commitment to following Jesus is Phil. 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
o The second truth about a committed disciple is:
· Committed to being changed by Jesus.
o God is already in the process of changing His children. Paul writes, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Rom. 8:29. God is working to bring us into conformity to Jesus Christ. The question is “Will you be committed to His change in your life?” He said He will conform me to His image, so I must be committed to that change. I trust Him and you can too. If you have accepted Jesus, He gave you His righteousness and is on your side. Will you commit yourself to the change He wants? When you understand His character and He is your hope, you will be committed to His change.
o A committed disciple will say, “I am no longer content just coming to church and warming a pew. I don’t want to be a spiritual child anymore concerned only with myself. I’m concerned about others. I’m growing up, so I can become a spiritual parent to disciple others. I trusted Jesus for salvation; I will trust Him for whatever change He thinks is necessary. I care more about others than my own agenda. I want Him to help me become winsome to reach others.”
o Your response can be what Paul said in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
o The third truth about a committed disciple is:
· Committed to the mission: growing disciples who are making disciples.
o We studied this in the previous message when Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matt. 28:19-20 The committed disciple says, “I have a mission. I’m on it. A fisher of men.”
o This is not like the expression, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” That is a great principle for discipleship, but not the mission Jesus was teaching.
o This is catching men, who will be able to catch other men. I’m on a mission.
o I love that about the military. You train for a mission. You rehearse tactically using a sandbox to lay out the terrain features and walk through the proposed mission. Then you have each commander and staff run through it over and over to ensure you have the comms (communication), personnel, logistics and the right sequence of events including decision points, fire and movement, avenues of approach, advancement, suppression, recon patrols, overwatch, etc., etc.
· A Committed Disciple is one who is:
o Committed to following Jesus
o Committed to being changed by Jesus
o Committed to the mission: growing disciples who are making disciples.
Last week we asked the question:
Who is called to be a disciple-maker? Do you remember the answer that you provided? Yes, it was “Everyone.” Well now we need to briefly understand four keys to develop Disciple-making.
There are four keys to develop Disciple-making:
1) Biblical Foundation –Your understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ will deepen your desire to please Him and fulfill His will to make disciples who make disciples. Matt. 7:24-27; 2 Tim. 3:16-17
n We have this!
2) Intentional Discipleship– This takes the accidental out of discipleship Eph. 4:11-13. Jesus had intentional actions Matt 14:15-18, 27-31; Luke 10: 1; 22:7-13; John 6:5-6
n How are we intentionally raising up 80% to be committed disciples?
n Does our present plan help 80% reproduce disciples?
3) Relational Environment– it must be small enough for open communication and trust. There must be transparency and authenticity 1 Cor. 12:25 Must spend time with the people Deut. 6:7-9 in real teaching to establish a biblical worldview John 17:17; Matt. 4:4; Ps. 119:105. Jesus demonstrated a relational environment to help the disciples out of their comfort zone.
n Are you in a relational environment for discipleship?
4) Reproducible Process – we must develop a process to reproduce or all we will do is add.
n Do we have a process whereby new people can understand how they can begin reproducing within six months to a year?
Let’s make sure we hold fast to this principle:
We must determine how to maintain the past while adding reproduction to the future.
So, what is our plan to grow disciples who will disciple those who can disciple others? What would the model look like? Whatever the model is:
· It has to deal with fear factors – failure; fool; fake (intimidation of growing up spiritually)
· It has to deal with trust in relationships
· It has to deal with talking with others (people don’t want to be wrong in a group setting, so they’ll be quiet instead)
· It has to provide OJT because we learn by doing
· It has to amply provide encouragement with accountability
The model that I will present deals with all of these. So let’s summarize this message:
Jesus calls you to be His committed disciple.
How? The Holy Spirit’s power: Acts 1:8, 6-11
· Discipleship is a flexible step by step process. Disciples are shown how to take each step. Everyone learns by trial and error. You need an environment whereby you can make mistakes. You need someone to pick you up and encourage you to get back in the battle. Luke 9:1-3
· Disciples are those committed to Jesus, who will change them. However, He will change you only as you humbly request His change and put into practice what you are learning. Change will not happen by only listening Jam. 1:22
· Discipleship occurs in an intentional, relational environment. Relationships that keep picking you up and helping you become fishers of men. Matt 4:18-22
Let’s say this prayer together:
“Lord, I want to please You. I want to be a committed disciple to Your will. Help me take one lesson at a time that I might listen to understand how I can be a part of Your miracle of multiplication at Grace.”
Now is your time to see God’s miracles in your life. The next message presents one more aspect of this vision – spiritual growth characteristics.