We have a definition for discipleship: it describes any means of taking a person from unbelief to spiritual maturity.
It is not uncommon for me to be at a conference on “discipleship” and never hear any presentation address leading lost people to Christ – a very important aspect of discipleship. It is for this reason that I like to make a distinction between making disciples and training disciples. Hopefully, by doing so, both will get equal attention.
I also define the word “disciple” as “follower.” So whenever a believer is used by God to lead a non-follower of Jesus to become a true follower, that believer has functioned as a “disciple maker.”
Sometimes leading someone to Christ takes many months, perhaps even years. Yet at other times, it may take only a short period of time – maybe even less than an hour. Usually the person who quickly becomes a Christian does so because he or she has already been “prepared”, having already embraced many beliefs of the Christian faith. Often they only lack the bending of their knees – submitting to the lordship of Christ, thus becoming His follower.
Those, on the other hand, who are “unprepared” usually need much more time to investigate what we call “the gospel.” But regardless of how long it takes, the end result is the same – a new follower of Jesus, a real disciple. And such a follower will be known to be so by their fruit. As Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16).
I would assume that some of you who hear my definition of a “disciple maker” have said to yourself, “I could never do that!”
Well, I used to say the very same thing. And after my first attempt to do be a disciple maker, I was convinced (and with plenty of evidence) it was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.
I assumed that, as an introvert, the likelihood of me being a disciple maker was very low. And after that experience, I told the Lord these very words, “I’ll never do that again!”
But for many years now, I’ve had the privilege to lead a lot of people to Christ. So what accounts for such a change?
Primarily three things:
1) a different mindset,
2) a simple and effective strategy, and
3) a set of biblically sound and culturally relevant tools.
In the following chapters, I will elaborate on these three difference makers. But for now, trust God’s Word.
Jesus made it very clear, “Follow Me and you will become fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). If you believe God’s word, then you too can become a disciple maker! And when you do, you will never regret it.