I have been doing a series of training and planning sessions across Kentucky this year. Those events have caused me to realize something about discipleship that had not clicked until now.
Jesus taught and modeled ministry before he called the Twelve. He prayed all night (Luke 6:12) before calling them out personally. Then he did ministry with them. Then when the time was right, they were sent out in pairs (Mark 6:7) to do what Jesus had been doing. Then He called them back together to hear reports (Mark 6:30). This was disciple-making by Jesus.
When you pray for Jesus to send out workers into the harvest (Matthew 9:38), that is a discipling action on your part. When God lays an individual on your heart that you are to prepare and mobilize into His service, that is discipleship.
Following prayer, observation of what God is doing in that individual’s life and living life for Jesus in front of that person is disciple-making. Your life and your words matter!
To prepare people to say yes to the Lord’s call to serve Him, our observation along with spending time in life and ministry activities is essential. Debriefing these experiences helps the individual to recognize abilities that God can use in service. That is disciple-making action and preparation of the disciple for stepping into service.
Officially asking them to serve with us, leads some to step forward who would have been intimidated to serve alone. In fact, some may have said no to God otherwise. Doing so also heightens attention to your example and words from that point forward. And doing so gives you permission to accelerate your preparation of the leader. These are essential disciple-making actions.
Don’t send them out to do the Lord’s work alone. Taking them with us is the best way for leadership development AND for disciple growth. In fact, what is the purpose of making disciples? Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) commands us as we are going to make disciples of all nations baptizing them (leading them to faith in Jesus) and teaching them to obey/observe/do what Jesus commanded…which leads right back to teaching them as they are going to make disciples.
Bottom line: when we pray for, enlist, train, and mobilize leaders to help the church carry out the Great Commission, we are making disciples. Pray. Observe. Take them with you. Debrief. Ask them to serve with you. Accelerate the preparation. Don’t send them out alone. Make disciples!