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Essentials of Disciple Making describes the character traits of a disciple maker. Who you are is what you will reproduce.

How to Begin Disciple Making

“Keep the first things first.”  I have no idea who coined this phrase, but it is a good rule of thumb in disciple making.

Let’s begin by seeing how Jesus began His disciple making process:

In Luke 6:12-13 we get a big glimpse into the beginning of Jesus’ disciple making process.  THIS is the epitome of keeping the first things first!

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:

Prayer is the first of the first things.

Please note in the verses above that Jesus had many disciples.  Disciples are followers.  Apostles were  those sent out as messengers with delegated authority.  Keep in mind that the goal of all disciple making efforts is that we produce disciple-making disciples.


It is critical to never forget the goal of disciple making is to make disciple-making disciples.


Jesus prayed all night long for the twelve disciples/apostles.  I don’t know about you, but I have never spent an entire night in prayer for anything.  I have however, prayed for those whom He would choose for me to disciple.  Most of the time I didn’t have a particular person in mind.  It was interesting to begin praying for that someone, or someones, without any prior knowledge of who they would be.

I have performed this process many times in my adult life and I know the seriousness involved in praying for those whom you will disciple.  These would-be disciples are not unknown to our Father, but they may be to us.  There is a divine sense of anticipation when a disciple maker prays for that someone, or someones, they will be discipling.  I know as I pray for whomever He pleases that my life will be impacted as much, if not more, than those I would be discipling.  I knew I would be making disciples, but more than this, I knew I would be exquisitely gifted with forever friends and fellow soldiers in Christ’s army.  We will spend a minimum of eighteen months together, if not longer.  We wouldn’t just meet for discipleship training, we would socialize together, fellowship together, worship together, etc.  Disciple Making is wrapping our life around the lives of those we disciple, not merely one time per week, but truly knowing one another and doing life together.

So PRAY and ask the Lord to bring someone, or a couple of someones, into your path and invite them to join you in discipleship training.  The journey you embark on together will be the best thing you will ever do for yourself, your disciples, and for His kingdom.


A few qualifications for screening discipleship candidates:

  1. Do they have a hunger and thirst for His righteousness?
  2. Do they understand the commitment they are making?  Time:  study time, memorizing scripture, Bible reading, etc.
  3. Are they willing to make the commitment?

While this list may seem limited, they are the starting point.  Lay out the time commitment up front.  We live in a very hurried culture, so make certain they understand that discipleship training will be their highest priority for the next – however long you determine.  If you use discipleship curriculum, you will know how long the commitment will be.

Happy disciple making, brothers and sisters!  May He richly bless the desire of your heart to make disciples for His kingdom.

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3 Habits for Hearing His Voice

 

Luke 8:8 “He who has ears, let him hear.”

As disciples, it is our supreme privilege to hear the voice of our Shepherd, Jesus.

How do we know we are hearing Jesus’ voice and not the voice of an imitator or imposter?

The sheep know their shepherd’s voice.

John 10:4b  …his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

When I became a mother I had the benefit of staying home to be her mother.  Her bedroom was on the second floor of our tiny townhouse. When she would awake from her nap, I would whistle to let her know I was coming to get her.  This tiny baby was able to whistle when she was four months old!

Do you think she recognized her mother’s voice?  She certainly recognized her mother’s whistle – and imitated it well.

Think for a moment about your parents’ voices.  Are you able to recognize those voices in a crowded room?  Indeed we would recognize those voices anywhere, anytime.

Not only do we recognize the voice of our parents, but we recognize the content of their character by the content of their conversation.  We hear their voices in our thoughts; they influence our character all the days of our lives (good and bad).

It is the same with knowing our Shepherd’s voice.  Every steadfast disciple of Christ has learned to recognize His voice and follow it as well as imitate it.

His voice is in our heads and hearts.  Therefore, it comes out of our mouths via the process of transference.

Whatever our hearts are filled with spills out of our mouths unaware.

 “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b

Have you ever participated in a conversation with a bitter person?
What about an angry person?
What about a Jesus lover?

Think about all your family members and friends for a moment. They are a mixed myriad of characters that have influenced your life story and your voice.

Each person we engage in relationship with has a distinct character aspect to their conversation.  We recognize them by the content of their conversation.

All disciples need to learn to recognize Jesus’ voice by the content of His conversation with us in His Word.

As disciple makers, it is essential we teach those we disciple to hear The Shepherd’s voice.  So, how do we go about teaching the delicate skill of hearing His voice?

 

There are three critical habits that must be formed in every disciple’s life.  It is not an overnight occurrence but a repetitive, habitual, learned discipline.

#1   Reading God’s Word

“The Word of God is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword.” Hebrews 4:12

Teach those you are discipling to acknowledge the truth that our God, Savior, and Holy Spirit are present when a saint opens their bible to read.

I have made it a habit of saying this simple prayer as I open my Bible:

 “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

 

3 Benefits of a Simple Prayer:

It places us in a position of consciously listening for His voice.
It acknowledges His presence in our midst.
It subjugates our self to His authority over us.

 

Reading God’s Word is a habit to instill in every soul you disciple.

Teach them to listen for His voice as they read.  Instill in them a fondness for His Word. As they meet Him in His Word, they will become familiar with His voice because it is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword.

It is noteworthy that we all benefit from journaling after reading.  This is where we process what we have heard.  In this electronic age we are able to journal electronically.  Teach them the discipline of journaling after they read God’s Word.  The journal provides stones of remembrance that we can go back to for encouragement.  It enables us to see the work the Lord has wrought in our lives for His glory and our highest good.

Introduce them to a Bible Reading Plan.  Any Bible Reading Plan for learning to hear His voice is one of the more successful tools for making disciples.

You may discern that a Bible Reading Plan is what will work best for you and those you disciple.  Let the Spirit lead in deciding the best approach for the one you are discipling.

 

#2   Scripture Memorization

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  Ps. 119:11

I know, I know – I’m hearing your audible sighs from cyberspace on this one.  However, I can testify to the validity and veracity of scripture memorization.

As a brand new babe in Christ, I was put under the strict discipline of a valiant disciple maker who required me to memorize scripture.  I memorized one verse per week.

Those first memory verses are still hidden in my heart to this day.  They pour forth in my mind and out of my mouth with ease.

I like to refer to scripture memorization as “God’s Tool Box.”  The verses and passages we commit to memory are always with us and are available for God’s purposes as we interact with others in our daily lives.  By memorizing scripture, we are transformed into His living, breathing representatives to a lost world.

Why Memorize Scripture

Allow me to borrow a superb list of scripture memorization benefits from John Piper. I am giving him full credit and linking to his blog post called “Why Memorize Scripture.”  I could not have constructed a better list.  (The link to this article can be activated by clicking on the title, “Why Memorize Scripture.”

  • Conformity to Christ
  • Daily Triumph Over Sin
  • Daily Triumph Over Satan
  • Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
  • Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
  • Communion with God

Scripture Memorization Chuck Swindoll

Helps for Memorizing Scripture

Topical Memory System
The Topical Memory System has been used by generations of Disciple Makers and is a proven means for memorizing scripture verses that encounter life’s various demands.  Published by The Navigators.

Scripture Typer
An excellent free app for your electronic devices called ScriptureTyper.  You type in your memory verses and this app helps you memorize it by displaying some of the words of the verse (every other word) and you fill in the missing words.  You can also type the verse from memory until you have mastered it.

 

#3 Prayer

What does prayer have to do with hearing His voice?

Prayer is our conversation with God, therefore prayer is a two-way conversation.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isa. 64:24

The prompting we receive to go to prayer is from Him.

In the midst of prayer He hears us.

Teaching those you disciple to pray is critical to their progress as a disciple.

Can you imagine going through your entire life never communicating with the people you love?

How can we say we love Jesus if we never communicate with Him?

Prayerlessness isolates us from God and His mountain-moving power.

Prayer is where we get to know Him and His voice, but He also gets to know us and our voice.  Prayer is where He transforms us into His image.  He changes our mind, He corrects us, and He transfers His character into us.

Prayer is beneficial on many levels:

Prayer humbles us.
Prayer places us in His presence.
Prayer is our lifeblood to the ruler of the universe.
Prayer puts us in touch with the one who has all the answers.
He assures us He is in our midst while we are in prayer.
He answers prayer.
He prompts our spirit to pray for matters we do not foresee.

Here is a link to The Prayer Hand.  It is a tool for teaching disciples to pray.

In conclusion, let us all discipline ourselves in such a manner as is pleasing to God.  Let us draw near to Him that He might draw near to us and speak into our heart and soul that we might have ears to hear His voice.

Please comment below and let us know if this article has been helpful for you.  We invite conversation at Disciple Makers!

The Bridge

The Bridge Illustration

One of the most important tools in a disciple maker’s toolbox is The Bridge Illustration.

It is one of the most effective evangelism tools on the planet!  I don’t know where it originated, but I have used this tool with great effectiveness for many years.

Whether the person you are discipling has been a church attender for many years or knows absolutely nothing about Jesus, this tool delivers the full power of the Holy Spirit whenever and wherever it is deployed.  As you engage in disciple making you will discover that most people lean on their church attendance as evidence that they are a child of God or they don’t know anything about Him at all.  There is often a complete lack of understanding why Jesus had to die on the cross.  They may think they know God, but they do not have a living and active relationship with Him.  Until their blind eyes are opened to the truth, your discipleship efforts will be in vain.

The Bridge Illustration will open the eyes of the blind.

I have borrowed this particular Bridge Illustration from The Navigators due to its simplicity.  However, you will never use this particular illustration because you will be able to draw it on a napkin in a restaurant, the back of an old piece of scrap paper, or a marker on a piece of glass – whatever you have at hand in the moment.

The Bridge Illustration

 

How to Use The Bridge Illustration

  • Memorize all the verses and write them as you draw the illustration above
  • Draw the left cliff with a stick man on top
    • Share the Bible verses as you explain man’s separation from God and the penalty of sin
    • Write the verse reference on the drawing
  • Draw the right cliff and write “GOD” on top
  • Talk about the chasm between man and God.  Draw ‘The Bridge’ = Jesus Christ, our only salvation
    • Share the verses as you explain God’s miraculous provision for man’s salvation
    • Write the verse references
  • Ask for a decision
    • Wait for an answer – don’t be afraid of the pregnant pause, just wait for a response
    • Answer any questions
  • Lead them in a prayer to receive the gift of salvation provided by God in Jesus
  • If they have accepted  Christ write the date on the drawing, give them the drawing and ask them to keep it in their Bible as a memorial.
  • If they do not make a decision to accept Christ, give them the drawing and ask that they keep it somewhere safe.  It may come back to them in the future.

The entire process of sharing The Bridge Illustration takes 10 minutes or less depending on questions.

Come back here after you share The Bridge Illustration and tell us the story.  We all need to hear testimonials for encouragement!

Being

There is one thing that is essential for all disciple makers – BEING.

“You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.”  Howard Hendricks

In order to reproduce disciples of Christ, we need to BE disciples of Christ.

A disciple is an adherent who accepts the instruction given to him and makes it his rule of conduct.1

I can testify that being a disciple is the chief essential for all disciple makers. If we believe we are the driving force of disciple making, we miss the mark. On our own, we will reproduce self-seeking disciples of ourselves.

The first priority of a disciple maker is to sit at the feet of Jesus, meet with Him daily, and dwell in His presence as a lifestyle.

The apostle Paul describes the results of this lifestyle with great eloquence:

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Can you imagine teaching someone how to weld when you have never touched a welding torch? You may have an intellectual understanding of welding from reading about it, but until you take the welding torch into your hands and set it to metal you do not fully comprehend being a welder.

It is the same for a disciple maker who does not sit at the feet of Jesus and absorb His life, character, essence and splendor.

It is at His feet that He transforms us into His own image. It is this transformation that attracts others to us; it is what they want for themselves. Therefore, making disciples has little to do with us and everything to do with His transforming power.

Do you invite Jesus into your existence? Does your heart yearn for His transforming presence? It is only by existing in His holy presence that we have the essential element for disciple making – the aroma of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

We may have an education in biblical studies, but if we do not have the aroma of the Lord radiating from our being, we will not be an effectual disciple maker. We will tend to deliver head knowledge without heart knowledge.  We create an extraordinary learner, but not a disciple who makes disciples.

Being always precedes doing

Some time ago I was in a group where we were challenged to look up the “be” verses in the Bible. The “be” verses of scripture far exceed the number of “do” verses. It was a life-changing exercise for me.

We tend to want to do for Jesus. Doing is good, but being is exceptional. Doing follows being.

The only way we attain the aroma of Christ is by being His possession: sitting at His feet (learning from Him), meeting Him face to face (allowing His glory to burnish our soul), and linger in His glorious presence (in continual conversation).

Focus on being His disciple and the radiance of His essence will emanate from our being without our awareness. This radiance or aroma of Christ is only discernable to others.

Humility is the outpouring of the Spirit within us. Do not take credit or boast about being with Jesus, the effect of it is already evident to others. For those who are perishing we are the aroma of death, but to those who are being saved we are the aroma of Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

Go make disciples and teach them how to sit at Jesus’ feet where His transforming power will change the flavor and course of their lives for eternity.


Here is an exercise for practicing sitting at Jesus’ feet:

Sit at His Feet with some “Be” Verses

Look these verses up in your Bible so you can read them in context.
Highlight the word ‘be’ or ‘being’ then consider what He desires us to be and why.
Ask yourself, “Is it for His sake or mine?”

  • Matthew 5:48
  • Matthew 16:6
  • Romans 4:21
  • Romans 10:9
  • Romans 12:2
  • Romans 12:10
  • Romans 12:12
  • 1 Corinthians 16:13
  • Ephesians 3:16-19
  • Ephesians 4:2
  • Ephesians 4:22-24
  • Ephesians 5:1-2
  • Ephesians 6:10
  • Philippians 1:9-11
  • Colossians 3:9-10
  • Colossians 4:2
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16
  • Hebrews 12:14
  • James 1:2-4
  • 1 Peter 5:8
  • 2 Peter 1:5-8
  • Jude 22