Acts 6:7a – “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem..."
Ever since the church’s inception it has been marked by multiplication. The driving method behind our explosive growth has been a simple, time-tested approach that was modeled, commanded, and passed down to us by Jesus. It’s what we call discipleship.
In short, discipleship is entrusting the gospel to another person in ways that empower and equip them to do the same for others.
Before his execution in Rome, the Apostle Paul left Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, with these words:
II Timothy 2:1-2 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
In most cases, you will hear II Timothy 2:2 but not 2:1. The irony of this omission is that without the power given in v. 1, the application of v. 2 would be impossible. That’s because discipleship is hard work! And hard work requires strength.
Much like Timothy, if we are not receiving daily strength from the grace of God, then the daily challenges of life will sidetrack us from the daunting work of making disciples.
So how do you get started? Here are 5 suggestions.
1. Own the assignment.
Our foremost assignment from Jesus is unmistakable:
Matthew 28:19 “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
But before commanding this, Jesus promised something else:
Matthew 4:19 “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
In other words, if we will accept the assignment, Jesus will make us effective.
2. Understand the method: life on life.
The work of discipleship requires time spent with a select few.
Consider Robert Coleman’s words on how Jesus prioritized His calendar:
“The time which Jesus invested in these few disciples was so much more by comparison to that given to others that it can only be regarded as deliberate strategy. He actually spent more time with his disciples than with everybody else in the world put together. He ate with them, slept with them, and talked with them for the most part of his entire active ministry. They walked together along the lonely roads; they visited together in the crowded cities; they sailed and fished together on the Sea of Galilee; they prayed together in the deserts and in the mountains; and they worshiped together in the Synagogues and in the temple.”
Coleman goes on to say, “One living sermon is worth a hundred explanations.”
Although, Jesus never neglected ministry to the masses, He was hyper focused on ministering to a select few.
3. Stop making excuses.
“I don’t have time.”
Did you know that the average person in our country eats 21 meals a week? Why not plan some of those meals with people you want to disciple? Jesus did. Every instance of Jesus making disciples in the gospel of Luke involves him at, going to, or coming from a meal.
We’re all busy. Yet somehow, we always find a way to make time for what’s important. If discipleship was important to Jesus then it must be important to His followers.
“I’m not capable."
Discipleship is not about your capability; discipleship is about your availability. Right after Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, He immediately followed up with a reassuring promise that should silence our insecurities: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“I don’t know how.”
Don’t let that stop you. The simple truth is: we learn by doing. When I first started making disciples at the age of 19, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I called it a “Bible Study” but now that I think about it, a better description would’ve been “a small group of people talking about the Bible who didn’t really know much about the Bible.”
Despite my ignorance, God chose to bless and was pleased by the effort.
4. Have a plan in place.
If you’re plan for discipleship cannot be duplicated then it probably needs to be evaluated. Whether you decide on a book, curriculum, or Bible study, it is imperative that you give the people you choose to disciple something that they can turn around and give to others. This is what II Timothy 2:2 is all about.
Here are a few discipleship resources that I’ve found helpful and that can be easily duplicated. Several of which are free.
The 2:7 series by the Navigators
Secret Church studies by Dr. David Platt
The Real Life Discipleship Training Manual
Anything from Brainerd Baptist Church’s website
"Growing Up" by Robby Gallaty
"Born to Reproduce" by Dawson Trotman
"The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren
"30 Days to Understanding the Bible" by Max Anders
"The Master Plan of Evangelism" by Robert Coleman
Despite what your plan is, have a plan and work the plan!
5. Just do it.
When our lives are over, Jesus will not welcome us into Heaven saying:
Instead, He will say, “Well done.”
Now let’s get moving. We’ve got work to do!
 I am indebted to J.D. Greear for these 5 suggestions. They come from a sermon he preached from the “Start” series called “The Mission: making disciples.”