“When it comes to talking about making disciples, it’s not about individual followers of Jesus, on their own, lone rangers making disciples. It’s about being apart of a body and together making disciples. Those unbelievers need to see evidence of community around Christ. They need to see the love of Christ in action. They need to see the mercy of Christ in action. The church needs to become a picture that, especially for harden hearts of unbelievers, softens their hearts towards the goodness of Christ in the community of faith. We don’t just walk in isolation. We walk in love and service to one another. We’re teaching the Word to each other and the Word is spreading through each other. All of that has to happen in the context of relationships with other people. And so disciple making is intricately tied to commitment with a local church.” – Platt
What makes a healthy disciple? Jesus’ words to His disciples about making disciples was this:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:19-20
To “go and make disciples” suggests to me that there are two major aspects to being a disciple. The first has to do with our own spiritual life – Jesus addressed those who were already following Him. You can’t make disciples if you’re not a disciple. Chuck Smith always used to say “Healthy Sheep beget Sheep”. The second aspect has to do with the spiritual life of others. Those that were already following Him should help others follow Him. If we are walking with the Lord, it is essential that we have a heart for those that don’t know Him, a deep burning, unquenchable desire to see them evangelised.
As a starting point I’d suggest that there are five indicators that fall into these two main areas. Indicators of both the requirements and evidences for disciples.
- Personal responsibility for your own spiritual health – daily prayer, bible study, fasting.
- Every day evangelising of pre-Christians with the good news gospel of Jesus – engaging where people gather (i.e. the workplace, social media). This is the “Go” of Jesus’ command to make disciples. We are to “go” each and every day with the message of the gospel on our lips.
- Intentionally meeting with pre-Christians and new believers to help them along in their faith. The act of making disciples is about investing time to meet with people and explaining the core beliefs of Christianity and how these are applied to individuals lives.
- Engagement with a local church beyond “sit and soak” – owning a shared vision, being an advocate for the ministry, knowing your role/call & faithfulness to it
- Gathering with the local church to mutually encourage, exhort and instruct other believers towards discipleship (disciples make disciples)
These help us to evaluate whether or not we are disciples. Anything missing? How do you fare?