How to Make a Disciple

Posted on January 24, 2013

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Discipleship PicAuthor: Lonnie Wibberding
We are among the Eleven. Jesus has just returned to heaven and left us with the command, “Go make disciples of all nations.” We know we need to baptize the new disciples. We know we need to teach them the things Jesus taught us. But how? What is the best way? It seems those first disciples never got the Disciple Making 101 class. But maybe they did. . .
 
There are few explicit instructions in disciple making in the Gospels, other than Jesus last words. Yet, each of those first disciples, became a disciple. Perhaps the process of becoming a disciple was more powerful instruction than any class. Perhaps that process is where we need to look.
 
Jesus chose twelve men to start His church. Why not a hundred? Wouldn’t the church have been stronger if there were a hundred? More people to spread the Good News . . . I think the answer has to do with relationships.
 
If you and I are in a room together, there is just one relationship in the room. The one between you and me.
Discipleship
If our friend Bob walks in, suddenly there is three relationships, because Bob adds a relationship to everyone already in the room.
Discipleship II
Now Suzy walks in and brings the number of relationships to six, by adding three (one for each person in the room).
Discipleship III
If fact, you can figure out the number of relationships in any room by multiplying the number of people in the room by one less than the number of people in the room and divide by two. “(N*(N-1)) / 2= relationships.”
 
Jesus disciple making group had thirteen – twelve disciples and Himself. This means there were 78 relationships (13*12/2). Just adding five people to this group would create a group with 153 relationships, which is almost double. A group of a hundred (my idea for a good number of disciples) would have 4,950 relationships.
 
Maybe you’ve been in a room with a group, a few more people walk in and suddenly it feel more lively.
The size of the group matters. Jesus knew this. The church was stronger because He had twelve disciples. It would have been weaker if He had had a hundred.
 
I was recently part of a church organized around the idea of smaller groups (SimpleChurchAtHome.com). For two years we met together. At first there were seven, then a few more until we had 14-16, sometimes over twenty.
 
A couple things happened I haven’t seen in larger gatherings. People felt comfortable coming as they were. People who would never feel comfortable in a church building came and enjoyed it. Second, people got to know each other better. Rather than coming to hear a sermon we came to share life. It was natural, organic, and good.
 
Not every church has to be organized like this. But let’s not overlook the fact that Jesus made disciples in a small group. Perhaps His example is as instructive as His words.