WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO MAKE DISCIPLES?
In January 1980 when I took over my last Pastoral appointment (before going into Bible College Ministry in 1987) I discovered soon after arriving that five of the young people had gone to Y.W.A.M. and were now serving on different bases in Australia.
When one of the Y.W.A.M’ers were home for a few days I asked him why he had gone to Y.W.A,M. his reply shook me up, he said “I had to go and get discipled”. My reply was, “you have just slapped my face, as I thought it was the responsibility of the local church to disciple new believers”.
Quite early in my Christian life, although I could not have articulated it, there was a burden on my heart to see new believers grow to maturity. I thank God for the ever increasing understand God has given me over the years in this area.
I was informed recently that in some recent surveys taken on church life in Australia, that many of the older folk (40+) shared that they had never been biblically discipled. BUT many young adults had been Biblically discipled. This took place when they attended University and became involved in the Christian Union (fellowship). They were exposed to the Navigators Ministry (founded by a Dawson Trotman in the U.S.) which has had tremendous success in the area of Discipleship on University campuses around the world.. In the Pastor’s fellowship I attend weekly the local Presbyterian Minister was impacted by the Navigator’s Discipleship Ministry, he is a beautiful Christian brother. Dawson Trotman wrote a little booklet entitled “BORN TO REPRODUCE”. try and access it and read it please?
You may say don’t most successful churches have New Christians Classes? The answer is very resounding yes, BUT IS IT BIBLICAL DISCIPLESHIP? What do the classes produce?
A current Navigators staff member Rick Howerton expresses it this way.
THE ROLE OF A PASTOR IS NOT TO GROW A BIG CHURCH. THE PASTOR’S ROLE IS TO GROW MATURE DISCIPLES WHO MAKE DISCIPLES.
So Rick is saying the goal of Discipleship is: SEEING NEW CHRISTIANS COME TO MATURITY AND IN TURN BECOME DISCIPLEMAKERS.
The reality is a 4-6 week class WILL NOT produce mature Christians. These classes are simply imparting information. A class is important. but it is only a small part of the equation.
I have written much regarding what I call Biblical Discipleship, and I don’t want to repeat myself here, except to say that THERE MUST BE A ONE ON ONE COMPONENT, where a Disciplemaker walks with the new believer (maybe for 6-9 months) to see him come to maturity and become a Disciplemaker.
EVERY CHURCH NEEDS A GROWING TEAM OF DISCIPLEMAKERS
It is physically, emotionally and spiritually IMPOSSIBLE for the Pastor to do it.
I can hear someone say: “where do I start ? Choose two or three men and start meeting with them, initially just building a bridge of friendship and trust, and then let the Discipleship/Mentoring process commence.
Earlier this year, as I was praying about the next step in my ministry, before the Lord clearly directed me into Intercessory Ministry I felt it could be in the area of assisting Pastors with this process, primarily say through Skype. I don’t know whether the time is right yet. Are you frustrated and concerned about the need of Discipleship in your ministry? Does the above witness with your heart ? Do you want to talk about it with me?
I look forward to your response.