Essential Ingredients to being Disciple-Makers

Tom headshot 6-2012As one called to be a disciple-maker, I continue to learn a few essential characteristics which may bear fruit, while also identifying other rather fruitless practices.  I am indebted to many others in various networks and organizations who have gone before me.  I prayerfully pass these thoughts on to you for your consideration, and innovative practice.

Prayer is the starting point of all ministry.  We must know the mind of God and join Him in His work, as we prayerfully initiate relationships and as we pray until something happens.  We must repent of our relative prayerlessness, declare our prayerful dependence upon God for anything of eternal value to occur, and simply take Scripture at its word with regard to “the effectual, fervent prayer” of all those cloaked in the righteousness of Christ.

Access Ministries open the door for disciple-making and, used wisely, lead to community transformation.  Holistic ministry should precede and accompany the sharing of the Good News.  And, stating “the Kingdom of God is at hand” must always be the end result of access ministry.  Timing is important and necessary, and access ministries are as varied as your individual creativity.

Focus on extended households, not just individuals.  Households include non-related people living together as family (and / or those individuals serving the household voluntarily or in a vocational capacity).

Prayerfully seek the person of peace, someone God has uniquely prepared in an affinity group or “community” ahead of us.  This PoP will be a local “insider” who understands and is a bridge or gateway to that community.  Quite often, they will actually seek us out.  Spend time with and invest in them as a fellow disciple and disciple-maker.  When there is no PoP, there is no disciple-making.  When your goal is to reach an entire community, the PoP is the best strategy.

Teach obedience to the Word.  Fruit-bearing follows obedience.  Cultivate intimacy with God, loving Him supremely, keeping His precepts foremost on our hearts daily.  Influence others as naturally as possible throughout each day, through every available medium.  Be graciously overt about our faith and our confidence in God’s ability to transform lives.  Obedience requires us to consistently and constantly abide, by God’s grace, setting our minds on things above… remaining in Him, in step with His Spirit and in alignment with His will for us on a daily basis.

Keep all things led and reproducible by ‘insider’ leaders.  Try not to import external culture, but redeem local culture by embracing all you can, biblically speaking, and redeeming or transforming the rest.  Outside leaders introduce new concepts, which are conceptualized by inside leaders.  Outside leaders model, equip, watch and leave asap.

It is not unusual to find those engaging in disciple-making confronted by spiritual warfare, ranging from annoying to life-threatening.  Living in obedience is the best prep for spiritual conflict.

Humbly engage approaches to disciple-making in both form and function.  I am a relative newcomer (2+ years) to the discovery (Bible study) method, and I have been encouraged by this approach, over other methodologies and mindsets I have used in the past.  If you have an effective, tried and true method, which works well for you, by all means stick with it.  However, if you could benefit by a fresh approach, role play the discovery process with a ‘safe’ friend or colleague to build your confidence to pursue it with virtually anyone.

  1. “What are you thankful for this past week?” (disarming, easy, and teaches gratitude)
  2. “What challenges or stressors are you facing this week?” (connects, horizontal vulnerability, getting at the core of each other’s lives, trusting each other emotionally)
  3. “How did it go, sharing with ______?” (Accountability based on “I will” statement last week)
  4. God’s Word: “Read… read… retell… details” (Helps application and memorization)
  5. “What do I learn about God?  People?  What do I need to obey?”
    1.  “Where do you find that in this passage?”  (NO HYPERLINKING!!!)
  6. “As a result of what I learned, I will                                                                        .”
  7. “Who needs to hear this in the upcoming week?  Who will I share this with?”

Fruitful ministry requires collaboration within the entire Body of Christ, both strategically and practically.  I invite you to engage a handful of other individuals who desire to obey Jesus’ command, first to pray together and then to encourage one another, to be more committed disciples, and to become catalytic disciple-makers, by God’s grace and power.