Project Make Disciples
When it comes to being a follower of Jesus we all have the same mission, “…go make disciples…”. It couldn’t be clearer. Jesus would have never given us a mission that would exclude certain people from it. In fact, making disciples is so simple that every follower of Jesus can and must be a part of this wonderful process.
In writing Breaking the Discipleship Code, I did so in such a way that it could become a tool for beginning the process. All you have to do is take some simple steps and you are on your way.
1. Invite a friend to read the book with you. Go ahead and grab an extra copy of the book and prayerfully select a friend to give it to. You can do this with a single friend, a couple of friends or even a small group of friends. I like to take a brand new follower or even someone who is still trying to figure out the “Jesus thing” and take them through it together. This kind of life on life process can and does produce incredible life change for all who take advantage of it. I am currently putting together a group of eight to twelve men. We are going to go to Malawi together and put in a well and irrigation system. We are going through the book as part of our preparation. I can not wait to see what God is going to do in and through us as we prepare for our trip, and not to mention what is going to happen once we actually go to Malawi.
2. Meet once a week to go over the questions at the end of each chapter. Encourage everyone to go through the book at their own pace. I often take a book like this one and read a chapter every morning as part of my quiet time. For me, this means reading four to five chapters a week. A book like this will take me about four weeks to work through. Other times, I will take a book like this and read it from cover to cover in just a few days or a week. I prefer taking my time so I can really soak it up. After you begin reading the book, I would suggest the following schedule for your weekly one on one time or group time.
• The first three weeks cover a chapter a week. Make sure you read the introduction it will set the stage for how you process the entire book. These first three chapters are the most important part of the book and will require some time to process.
• Week four and five you can cover “Book Two” or chapters four through eight.
• Week six through ten cover “Book Three”. You can cover two chapters a week during this time. When you are doing a one on one study or small group study, ten weeks is a long time. This is the main reason for the breakdown above.
3. Utilize the questions at the end of each chapter. The questions at the end of each chapter are designed for personal application. If you are doing a one on one study you will have time to answer all or most of the questions at the end of each chapter. If you are in a small group study, allow each group members to participate by discussing the questions that really grab them.
4. Set aside approximately one hour for your one on one or group study time. Being disciplined about your time is one of the best ways to assure that you complete what you started. We live in a busy world and very few people can be consistent if they do not limit and utilize their time well. Here are some simple suggestions:
• Choose a time to meet where there will be limited conflict of schedule.
• Make a commitment up front and calendar the time.
• If you have to reschedule do not let more than two weeks go by before you met again.
5. During your one on one time or group time, spend time doing life together. Keep in mind that it is not about the curriculum or book, but it is about real life.
• Choose a place to meet that is casual and relaxed.
• Take time to get to know each other.
• Start each one on one or group time catching up.
• Do not be afraid to get off the subject or not finish the questions when appropriate.
6. Before you get started take a moment and read the excerpt from Breaking the Discipleship Code for a clear understanding of our mission.
It’s about Relationship, Not a Program
The foundational passage of scripture that introduces what it means to be a follower of Jesus is found in Mark 3:13-15: “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.”
Jesus then chose twelve men that would help accomplish His work and in whom He would invest His life. Notice the beginning of the passage; “He appointed twelve-designating them apostles-that they might be with him …” This is amazing to me. There was no program, no over-structured process, no book, no curriculum; He simply chose twelve guys and lived life with them. He lived His life in front of them, and they observed Him living and loving. No large organization, just a natural, simple, organic process of simply living life together.
This is profound to me! I have always felt the pressure to gather a few people in order to undertake some kind of regimented program. It never occurred to me that Jesus gathered these twelve simply to live life alongside them. Obviously, this is not to say that His life had no structure or purpose to it; it most definitely did. Jesus was filled with purpose. The second part of this passage reminds us of this, “… that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” Not only did He call them to hang out with Him, but he called them to accomplish His purposes. A careful examination of the life of Jesus provides clear insight into what it means to leave a legacy. In short, there are some simple practices we see Jesus employing when it came to qualifying a group of unqualified disciples. In the context of doing real life with these twelve guys, Jesus did this:
1. He shared a vision for His kingdom. The vision of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth was radically different from the religious world the disciples had grown accustomed to, so Jesus took every opportunity to explain His vision to the disciples. He spent a lot of time phrasing and re-phrasing it, using different explanations and metaphors to make it easier for them to understand.
2. He modeled a new way of life. He demonstrated what it meant to live in the context of the Kingdom by loving God and loving people. He rarely went at it alone; He often took the entire group of disciples with Him. At other times He focused on the inner circle of Peter, John, and James. Notice in the gospels that He never missed an opportunity to model the way and to explain His actions to the disciples.
3. He enabled them to live His Way. He didn’t do everything himself; He modeled the way only to enable His twelve disciples to do likewise. In essence He qualified the unqualified by showing them they had what it took to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
4. He encouraged them to live His Way. Enabling others can be messy business, and qualifying the unqualified can be difficult. Jesus’ disciples often stumbled, just as we still do. But after these experiences, Jesus would gather His disciples together and debrief, all the while encouraging their hearts.
What Jesus did was intentional, but it was also very organic. While we’ve found that the methods Jesus employed to train His disciples generally fell into these four categories, we also know that there wasn’t a program Jesus followed and the disciples followed. This serves to help us understand that we, too, can make a difference in others’ lives; we can, and must, leave what Jesus left behind.
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