THE DISCIPLESHIP CONNECTION
Jesus’ command to go and make disciples is every believer’s mission. It is known not as the Great Suggestion, but as the Great Commission. With this in mind, allow me to suggest the following based on 40 years of first having been discipled and then making disciples.
Start with Friendship
As my friend Pastor Joey Bonifacio says, “Discipleship is relationship.” Jesus called his disciples his friends, and it took all of 3 and 1/2 years. The Great Commission happens best as you take time to build a great connection with those you are discipling. Once you have their trust, you can affect their heart. Don’t be in a rush. Take the time. Friendships are not forged overnight. At the end of the day, you will find that more is actually “caught” than “taught” and you will find that the relational is transformational. People can tell when they are instead your “project.”
Continue by Feeding
In addition to the bible itself, there are many effective resources available to disciple new believers with. Choose the one you feel would work best with your friend. I personally use the ONE2ONE manual published by the Everynation churches and ministries. It is perfect for personal disciple making. Whatever you choose, be careful. Don’t make it a monologue, but allow it to be a dialogue. Ask them what they see, how they feel about what is shared, and probe for questions. Their energy added to yours can make for powerful revelational synergy. People learn best when they can participate in discovery of truth. And from the start teach them to pray by having them hear how you pray and then asking them to pray for you. Watch how God answers their prayers. It never fails to excite them, and boy, will it excite you!
Grow through Going
Do this from the start. Get them “going” by going with them to reach their friends and loved ones. That’s what Jesus and Paul did, and there are no greater missional models than those two. Doing this early on will embed the “Go” factor faster and more effectively. I have found that the formation of sound spiritual habits is most easily established in the first three years of a believer’s walk. Jesus recruited his disciples with this pitch: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He put it right out front and up front, and the rest, of course, is history.
In 1974, as a college student three months into my salvation experience, I was doing all of the above and leading my own small group. I only had to be one step ahead of the other three in the group but that stimulus helped me to grow quickly. 40 years later, I am still doing it, and loving it more than ever. They are not saved to sit, but to be sent. The sooner they go, the sooner they grow. And you grow right along with them.