Painting by Harry Anderson. Photo by Travis S/Flickr

Following in the way of Jesus

Eight principles for “making disciples”

“Have you ever been discipled?” I asked. “I don’t think so,” was his reply. “I grew up in the church, but I don’t remember being discipled in any intentional way.”

My friend’s experience is far too common. Many people who have been raised in a Christian context can point to various programs which were significant to their Christian growth, such as Sunday school, youth group or summer camp. But were they discipled?

Many churches have strong programming, but if you ask about “discipleship,” it may not be on the agenda. Somehow we think discipleship will be accomplished through the collective activity of the Church. In other words, discipleship may be assumed, but does it happen?

I have been reading the gospels with the following question in mind: “How can we learn to make disciples in the way of Jesus?” Here are some of my observations:

Jesus began His ministry after being called, affirmed and anointed by the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Discipling others needs to come from a deep place of intimacy with the Father.

Prayer is central to making disciples. Persistent prayer for those who do not know the love of Jesus will “rekindle your first love” and moves you to become an active disciple-maker.

Disciples need an invitation. Jesus calls them by name. Later, He explains that each one was “given to him” by the Father (John 17:8ff). It may sound random as He walks down the beach and says, “Come, follow me,” but Jesus knew that each one had been “chosen.”

True disciples responded to the call. They were willing. Some left their nets, others their office. Following Jesus was full-time. There is no such thing as a “part-time disciple.”

Teachable moments happened anywhere: sitting at a banquet, finding a man in a tree, having an argument about being first in line, seeing a herd of pigs rush into the sea, or responding to the needs of people they met. How do you write a curriculum for that?

Disciples were introduced to the power and the presence of the Kingdom of God. It is an invisible Kingdom (for now), but as disciples of Jesus, they saw evidence daily. Evil strongholds were torn down and people were set free.

Discipleship is not a spectator sport. Disciples do stuff. What they saw the Master do, they did. When at the end of His ministry Jesus said, “Go make disciples,” His final words echoed the pattern they had seen throughout their time with Jesus. Learning always led to serving.

Disciples become like their master. Being with Jesus taught them to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and to serve like Jesus. People would refer to them as “little Christs.” Pretty strong evidence that they had been with Jesus.

Is your church doing discipleship? Does this really happen today? Recently I met two young men, Dylan and Matt. They are working with First Nations young adults, learning to make disciples in the way of Jesus. Listen to Dylan’s spoken word piece called “Walk With Me.”

“…you walked with me.

You showed me first hand, what it meant to be free

So I opened my heart and I gave you the key

And for the first time I could finally see

Why someone like Jesus would actually die for me.

You brought your Bible to life, it wasn’t just talk

You see the word “love,” it’s a verb, and so is the word “walk”

So I thank you for putting your love into action,

Because your love is what caused my internal reaction

No, my “eternal reaction”

This crazy attraction...

I finally know what it’s like to be free

Because you took the time to walk with me.”

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A complete version of Walk With Me can be found at www.globaldisciples.ca. Paul Kroeker is the director of Global Disciples Canada.

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About the author


ChristianWeek Columnist

Paul Kroeker is the director of Global Disciples Canada. Visit www.globaldisciples.ca