Discipleship is the crux of the Great Commission of Christ. Jesus carefully selected men to follow Him and each one had to make a personal decision to abandon everything that occupied first priority in his or her life. It was decluttering one’s life from temporal affairs to exclusively focus on the eternal (Mat. 6:33; 16:24-26; Col 3:1-3).
Jesus’ selection of disciples was also objective in that it helped His followers focus on someone or something bigger than themselves or their preconceived ideas of a material kingdom. Jesus wanted them to be a spiritual kingdom people, earthly living messengers with a heavenly agenda.
Desiderio was a young robust man who lived a carefree life. Every day was just another day of leisure. However, all of this was about to change. On a bright Saturday morning as he chilled with his friends, he was approached by a pastor who was looking for a few strong, young men to assist him in installing a huge window/wall AC unit in the church. Desiderio responded with enthusiastic impetus and worked all day with the pastor who made him feel as if the acquaintance and interactions were longstanding. As the day progressed much was discussed about personal and spiritual things. At the end of the day, the pastor invited Desiderio to attend church on Sunday. Shortly after, he became a born again believer and was eventually thoroughly discipled. Today, Desiderio is a faithful follower of Christ as a Christian business man.
Good discipleship is an organic, biblical reality. Jesus sought and called men and women to become His faithful followers in order to uniquely prepare each person for local, national, and global impact (Luke 2:45-49; Acts 1:8). Real discipleship is on the job training. It is following a structure that has productive disciplines which will eventually help people to master their field of service.
Previously, I referred to and outlined the eight strategic steps from Robert Coleman’s book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, which Jesus used in cultivating faithful followers. Today, I would like to look at the first step: Selection.
Where and how do we select disciples? William Booth had a vision to cultivate pastors using the military strategy approach. Someone asked him, “Where will you get your pastors?” He responded by pointing to the inner city taverns and saying, “From there!” Jesus selected His disciples and apostles from two audiences: the crowds who followed Him, and the men who were already disciples of John. They were from three different worlds: 1) the social world—everyday people struggling to make ends meet in society, such as fishermen, tax collectors, businessmen; 2) the spiritual world—men who were zealous about spirituality, but ignorant and legalistic about its essence and intent; and 3) the scholastic world—a man like Saul of Tarsus who spent years of being discipled in the doctrine and ways of Christ before he was commissioned to full-time missions.
Christopher J. H. Wright in his book, The Mission of God’s People, makes the following observation about the importance of extended discipleship teaching in missions, “There should be no theology that does not relate to the mission of the church–either by being generated out of the church’s mission or by inspiring and shaping it. And there should be no mission of the church carried out without deep theological roots in the soil of the Bible. No theology without missional impact; no mission without theological foundations.”
Since discipleship is the crux of the Great Commission, we must intentionally seek to select disciples from the three different worlds previously mentioned. We should endeavor to select and produce real disciples who would become productive disciple makers. The following principles could be helpful in the selection process:
- We must focus on men as God’s method to reach the world. Men who are anxious to learn and to lead change in people’s lives and their world of influence.
- We must focus on men who are not seeking great people but gospel proclaimers.
- We must focus on men who are obediently applying the truth they teach to their own life’s circumstances.
- We must focus on men who will be involved in the global call to missions and ministries.
- We must focus on men who will not let power go their heads.
- We must focus on men who follow Christ because of personal inward transformation and not for immediate and superficial impressive ministry.
- We must focus on men who are more interested in introducing people to Christ and advancing His Kingdom rather than developing a temporal human empire and being swayed by the social appeals of the multitudes.
- We must concentrate on investing time and talents on a few faithful followers by equipping and developing them to live and lead a legacy of Christ-centered missions—locally, nationally, and globally.
- We must focus on choosing men who will take little and do much with it.
- We must focus on men who are committed to living holy lives and who have a passion for God and compassion for the world.
As we continue to study the concept of discipleship, would you ask yourself, “Am I a real disciple? Am I a disciple maker?” The world could become a better place if we begin the process of becoming intentional disciples makers. Let us begin the disciple selecting process and look towards the next step: association—spending time to mentor real disciples.