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Making Disciples: The Key to Movements by Ross Rohde

Most experienced Christians are familiar with Jesus command to make disciples in Matt. 28:18-20. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."


This is a justifiably famous passage. It is our marching orders from the King himself. It is what Jesus wants us to do. Like many passages it has become so familiar that it loses its impact. Worse yet, we have changed the meaning of the key words so that we tend not to understand what Jesus is really asking us to do. Buried in this "Great Commission" is Jesus' strategic genius. If we really do what he tells us to do; if we really respond to what Jesus was actually saying, we will see movements of the Spirit, not mere additions to the Church. With this in mind I'd like to look at what Jesus was really saying and show how that builds movements.

Whose Disciples Are They?
They are not our disciples, they are Jesus disciples. We may be involved in the discipleship process, but we are teaching them to obey everything that HE commanded.

What Is a Disciple?
A disciple is someone who follows a leader and becomes like that leader. Since they are Jesus' disciples, we help them become like Jesus.

Do We Disciple Christians or Non-Christians?
Yes. My favorite definition of discipleship is helping people take one step closer to Jesus. I can do that with anyone who trusts me, Christian or non-Christian. But, I think the principle focus is on helping non-Christians know Christ, hence become his disciples.

What Is the Discipleship Process Like?
We connect them to Jesus.  We are to show them how to obey everything Jesus commands. To do that they need to learn skills in connecting with, listening to and obeying Jesus. This should be high on skill and practice. Give them just enough knowledge to put in to practice. Knowledge will build over time but since it came through real life situations it will be embedded into their life, not just a piece of doctrinal trivia. Here is the heart of how I train people I've led to the Lord, and their sphere of influence:

  1. Read the Bible as a personal conversation with Jesus. Obey what he tells you to do.
  2. Pray as a personal conversation with Jesus. Obey what he tells you to do.
  3. As a group, pray, listen, obey.
  4. As a group invite the Spirit of Jesus to attend. Obey what he tells you to do.
  5. Pray for those who need Jesus. If Jesus tells you to talk with someone, obey.

Who Leads the Discipleship Process?
Jesus. They are his disciples. They need to learn to follow and obey him, not us or some manual. If we let him, Jesus will begin to bring up issues from their life as we begin to coach them in Jesus connection skills.

Jesus' Strategic Genius
Buried in all of this is Jesus' strategic genius. If we introduce people to Jesus and teach them to connect and obey Jesus; he will begin to lead them. He will lead them into the harvest. They will naturally start to tell their friends about what they are experiencing. And what are they experiencing? Jesus; and Jesus is wonderful. This is why Jesus explained the Kingdom as a lump of dough (society) with just a little bit of leaven which ends up leavening the whole lump. This is why seeds reproduce thirty, sixty and a hundred fold. This is organic growth, life causing more life, not mere, occasional addition to the Church.

If we truly make disciples instead of doctrinal students we will see the Kingdom act like leaven in dough and a sower sowing seed. Students are seldom ready. They always need to learn just a little bit more. But disciples, filled with the Spirit of Jesus himself, have power. He knows how to speak to their hearts and minds. He'll tell them what to do. And, he'll even use their mistakes to disciple them. He knows how to do that because they are his disciples.

  • Can you see the strategic difference between disciples and students?
  • Are you making disciples of Jesus or are you teaching them to follow you, a manual or a denominational code of rule?
  • Should we teach them to follow the word of God (the Bible) or the Word of God (Jesus)?


©2010 Ross Rohde

Originally posted on The Jesus Virus Blog here
Ross tweets @RossRohde
Used with permission.

Related Articles:

Exponential Growth by Ross Rohde
Discipling Viral Disciples by Roger Thoman
The Secret of Church Multiplication Movements by Neil Cole
Make Disciples Like the Apostles Did | Video by George Patterson
Making and Multiplying Disciples | Video by Neil Cole

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