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A Theology of Disciple Making

Updated: Feb 28

*Note: this blog will be updated as we work through this current sermon series during the month of February

"We believe the core mission of the local church is making disciples of Jesus Christ—it is God’s plan A to redeem the world and manifest the reign of his kingdom. We want to be disciples who make disciples because of our love for God and others. We personally seek to become more and more like Jesus through his Spirit so that Jesus would live through us. To help us focus on Jesus, his sacrifice on the cross, our unity in him, and his coming return, we typically share communion in our weekly gatherings. We desire the fruits of biblical disciple making, which are disciples who live and love like Jesus and “go” into every corner of society and to the ends of the earth. Disciple making is the engine that drives our missional service to those outside the church. We seek to be known where we live for the good that we do in our communities. We love and serve all people, as Jesus did, no strings attached. At the same time, as we do good for others, we also seek to form relational bridges that we prayerfully hope will open doors for teaching people the gospel of the kingdom and the way of salvation." - Renew Network Faith Statement

Support Scriptures: Matthew 28:19–20; Galatians 4:19; Acts 2:41; Philippians 1:20–21; Colossians 1:27–29; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20; John 13:34–35; 1 John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 13:1–13; Luke 22:14–23; 1 Corinthians 11:17–24; Acts 20:7.

Why Are the Life and Teachings of Jesus Important for Disciple Making? 

Jesus shows us by his life and teachings how we should live as his disciples. 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  — Matthew 28:19–20

We challenge outdated paradigms of passive listening and emphasize the transformative power of obedience-based discipleship rooted in Jesus' life and teachings. Using the analogy of building on sand versus rock, we seek to align our lives with Jesus' commands for rock solid resilience and spiritual growth. Emphasizing Jesus' intentional, relational communication style, we urged believers to prioritize hearing and obeying God's Word amidst the noise of the world. As we commit to rock-solid discipleship, may we trust in Jesus' teachings and embody them in our daily lives, finding true transformation and fulfillment in following him.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Matthew 7:21–24. Why is it important both to understand Jesus’ teachings and put them into practice? Is your discipleship based on sand or rock?

  2. What does it mean to develop the same mindset as Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5–7)? What is the best way to develop that mindset?

  3. How do you personally respond to Jesus' teachings? Do you find them challenging, comforting, or both? Share specific examples of teachings that have impacted your perspective or behavior.

  4. Do you filter, evaluate, and choose what to apply, or do you obey immediately, completely, and wholeheartedly?

  5. How has Jesus transformed your life?

  6. Do you help other followers of Jesus remediate their culturally learned patterns of filtering communications from God?

What Is a Disciple of Jesus?

A disciple of Jesus is someone who is following Jesus, transformed by Jesus, and committed to Jesus' Kingdom mission.

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” — Mark 1:17, ESV

Many churches have fallen short in nurturing genuine disciples, leading to disillusionment and disappointment. Emphasizing intentional, relational discipleship as key to true transformation, we encourage one another to seek authentic relationships where vulnerability and accountability thrive. The answer to the Church's discipleship crisis is the call to "re-Jesus", aligning our lives with Jesus' teachings, embracing His mission, and actively sharing His love with others.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the advantages in having a clear definition of what it means to be a disciple? How can this help a church to be effective in making disciples? 

  2. What are the three elements in this lesson from Mark 1:17 (or Matthew 4:19) that pertain to being a disciple? 

  3. Based on the three elements in the previous question, are you a disciple of Jesus? Explain. 

  4. What is your reaction to using the expression, “I am a disciple of Jesus,” as a more helpful expression than just saying, “I am a Christian”? 

  5. How would you help someone to understand that Jesus wants disciples, not just converts?

  6. Why is intentional discipleship crucial for personal growth and spiritual maturity, and how can we cultivate intentional discipleship relationships in our lives?

  7. What role do relationships play in the process of discipleship, and how can we create environments conducive to vulnerability, accountability, and growth?

  8. What does it mean to commit to Jesus' Kingdom mission, and how can discipleship empower us to actively participate in advancing God's Kingdom in our communities and beyond?

  9. Where do you need to make a "discipleshift" in your intentional, relational transformation?

Why Is Disciple Making the Core Mission of the Church?

The church is God’s plan to help everyone come to faith in Jesus and become more like Jesus to the glory of the Father in the power of the Spirit. 

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” — Colossians 1:28

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is it important to define the core mission of the church? 

  2. Prior to this teaching, what did you think was the core mission of the church? 

  3. If you lived out Colossians 1:28–29, what would God ask you to change? 

  4. Do you have relationships of truth and tears in community as in Acts 20?

  5. What areas of your life have you totally turned over to the ways of Jesus? What areas still need to be examined? 

  6. The goal of the church is to make disciples of Jesus. How is your church doing with this goal? 

  7. What is your role in the local church with regard to helping it become a disciple making church?

What Is the Result of Disciple Making? 

Disciple making results in a church that grows fruitfully and loves generously. 

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”  — Revelation 7:9

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think God cares about the results of our disciple making efforts? 

  2. Read Matthew 13:3–9 and notice how the various types of soils are described. Describe your spiritual journey, or the spiritual journey of someone you’ve discipled, in the terms of these types of soils. 

  3. Churches which raise up disciple makers see fruitful growth. How could this practically be accomplished in the local church? 

  4. Kelvin Teamer’s definition of Christlike love is “a cross-shaped action that glorifies God and benefits someone else.” What’s an example of this kind of love you’ve seen in action? 

  5. Give some examples of love shown through disciple makers in your own local church.

  6. When churches grow fruitfully and love generously, the world changes. This week, what’s the next step you can take on your disciple making journey?

How Do Disciples Live in This World?

Disciples of Jesus live in the world but are not of it. They are distinctive even as they permeate a dark world with light. 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  — Matthew 13:44

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to live counterculturally? Give some examples from your own life. 

  2. In what area of your life are you most concerned about living counterculturally (work, marriage, raising kids, church life, etc.)? 

  3. What would it mean for you to be “salt” (as described in Matthew 5:13) in your everyday life (work, home, play)? 

  4. Describe some of the sacrifices that people have made to be disciples and make disciples. You can draw these from the Bible or early church tradition, as described above. 

  5. What risks or sacrifices do you need to make in order to become a disciple who makes disciples?

  6. Are you ready to make the commitment to disciple making as described at the end of the chapter? If not, consider fasting and prayer for: 1) the Holy Spirit to show you what it would take to become a disciple maker and 2) the Holy Spirit to show you who should disciple you or whom you should disciple. Write out your commitment or prayer here.m

Recommended books and resources: 

  • David Young, King Jesus and the Beauty of Obedience-Based Discipleship (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2020). 

  • Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Shifts That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013). 

  • Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2006). 

  • Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom, Discipleship that Fits: The Five Kinds of Relationships God Uses to Help Us Grow (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016). 

  • Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Discipleship: Moving from Shallow Christianity to Deep Transformation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2021). 

  • Jim Putman and Chad Harrington, The Revolutionary Disciple: Walking Humbly with Jesus in Every Area of Life (Nashville: HIM Publications, 2021).

Download Disciple Making Worksheet Below:

Disciple Making worksheet
Download PDF • 65KB

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