Spiritual disciplines

We have no control over growing into the character of Jesus ourselves – just as we cannot pick ourselves up by our own shoestrings. But we have 100% control over spending time with Jesus through the spiritual disciplines. It is during these times that Jesus transforms us into His image. JT

The purpose of Disciple making

The purpose of Disciple making is not only to get unbelievers to cross a certain line and repent. It is to guide people to repeat the life of Jesus. To think like Jesus thought, to repeat the life of Jesus. It is not simply to get the person to stop some negative behaviour. It is to have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2:16). JT

As you follow Him ….

Jesus disciples us to think about life, ourselves and our Father in the way He does. In Matthew’s gospel this is introduced right after the call of the disciples. What is important to Jesus and the Father is to be totally dependent on God, focused on the needs of others, humble, standing up for what is right, peacemakers who are willing to pay the price in living these ideals in real life. Over the next three years Jesus would teach this in simple ways, telling stories and show by example as He reaches out to people in need. However, Jesus is not only setting an example. He is shaping and changing the disciples by His very presence, by His very person. As you follow Him, you will experience that step by step you are beginning to think as Jesus did and even reaching out as he did. PS

Outcome of discipleship

In reading about the call of the disciples in Matthew 4:18-22 it is remarkable that right at the beginning, when they would not have been able to understand what He meant, Jesus said that they would become fishers of men one day. The outcome of discipleship is not salvation, although that is included in the package. What Jesus is aiming at is discipling you so that you will catch others to follow Him. PS

Repentance and disciple making

In Matthew 4:17 Jesus announces the breaking through of the Kingdom of God and raises a call of repentance. In a study of the specific word for repentance that Jesus used it was found that for Jews living at the time of Jesus, “repentance” meant “a fundamental change in thinking and living”. Immediately in the next verse we find the call to follow Jesus as disciple accompanied by the signs of the coming of the Kingdom. Could it be that by repentance Jesus meant in this instance the whole process of discipling up to Matthew 28? Could it be that in following Jesus, He renewed their minds and their conduct to be more and more in line with Him, forging Kingdom transformation over the period of three years? Did your world-view change since following Jesus? PS

Do you know how to journey with unbelievers?

The assignment Jesus gave to his disciples just before He ascended was: “Go and make disciples of all nations …”. The task of this group of believers was not to disciple the existing believers, but to disciple all nations – those who still do not believe, because Jesus came to save those who are lost. The discipleship of believers, however, is established in our ecclesiastical thinking. We are bringing people out of the world and bring them into church programs and we call it discipleship. The problem remains, however, that few disciples after their “discipleship training”, ever again become involved in unbelievers’ lives, because they no longer know how to communicate with unbelievers. We “discipled” them in the presence of only believers. The result – they no longer know how to journey with unbelievers.

Disciple making quotes

“The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose.” ~ C.S. Lewis
“Success should be measured not by how many disciples are made, but by how many disciples are making other disciples.” Bill Hull
“The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner  of human existence.” Dallas Willard
“Ultimately each church will be evaluated by only one thing, its disciples. Your church is only as good as its disciples.
It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs or property are. If your disciples are passive, needy, consumeristic, and not moving in the direction of radical obedience, your church is not good.”
 ~ Neil Cole

Something better than drawing multitudes (Neil Cole)

We must remind ourselves that there is something better than drawing multitudes to our services. Jesus often turned away from the multitudes and was even know to turn away the multitudes with hard words. More people attending does not mean success. Nicer buildings does not mean your church is any better. The key to a healthy church is not better messages, better music, better methods, and more money. It is time to abandon those ideas and search for how the Kingdom is truly meant to expand.

E.M.Bounds once wrote, “Men are looking for better methods, God is looking for better men.” One of the driving convictions of our movement is summarized in the statement: A church is only as good as her disciples. Healthy disciples make up a healthy church. Reproducing disciples will make a reproducing church.

Neil Cole

Quotes from ‘Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples’

“we reduce discipleship to a canned program, and so many in the church end up sidelined in a spectator mentality that delegates disciple making to pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries. But this is not the way it’s supposed to be.”

“But making disciples is far more than a program. It is the mission of our lives. It defines us. A disciple is a disciple maker.”

“Discipleship is all about living life together rather than just one structured meeting per week.”

“Proclaiming the gospel to a lost world cannot be just another activity to add to the church’s crowded agenda. It must be central to who we are. It forms our identity.”
― Francis Chan, Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

Disciple making bombshells

1) All the nations will only become discipled if all the believers start discipling the unbelievers.

2) Each group of believers or congregation has the potential to disciple all the nations. They just don’t think like that about themselves.

3) The end product of disciple making is people who live like Jesus.

4) The key elements of disciple making are as follows:

  • Accountability towards one another (group)
  • Abiding in the WORD (obedience)
  • LOVE for one another
  • WITNESSING towards others

5) The focus of believers should be to disciple unbelievers. Believers are only discipled by going out and discipling unbelievers.

6) Disciple making is not about the transfer of information, but about the transformation of lives. Disciple making has no meaning if people do not live what they talk.

Discipleship is an identity-driven lifestyle

Discipleship is about identity. All people live according to the understanding of their identities. You can only find your identity in the Word, in the presence of the Father, and you can only establish your identity by living it among others and by helping them with their identities. In short: You can only become a true disciple by discipling others! You can only learn to swim by jumping into a swimming pool and learning to swim within the atmosphere of water. You can only learn to manage relationships by having relationships with other people.
Somewhere along the line we have to start being honest and bring everything that we do in a congregation in line with this. There has always been only ONE commission from the Lord and that is to disciple the nations. There is still only ONE commandment from God and that is love! Let us stay with this and stop trying to find ten other things pretending it would help the process of discipleship along the way. Believers only become good disciples by discipling other people. No course can equip you, except to go and do what we have been commissioned to do. May the Father give us grace to become faithful to His Word and not to our church programs.

Disciple making is behaviour, relationship and life based – it is not about what you know, but what you live and how you obey God.

The tragedy today is that many religious people are highly informed people with huge amounts of knowledge, but they do not necessarily live any of it. You can not make disciples of Jesus by giving people huge amounts of knowledge. Making disciples depend much more on your behaviour, relationships, life skills, character and attitude. These are matters that count in the Kingdom. In the first place the Lord does not want to know how much you know and how many degrees and courses you have done, but how much of the Word you are living. If you do not know how much of the Word you are living, ask the simplest person you know and you will get a clear indication. Disciple making happens in living life together with people and by living it in obedience to the Lord.

Disciple making addresses every aspect of life – not just religious and spiritual matters

God created man as body, soul and spirit and He made provision that we can live successfully in every aspect. Man is a being of uniformity and everything in life has an influence on every part of our being. In society everything has become institutionalized and delegated to institutions. The congregation takes care of the spiritual, the broker and bank manager take care of the finances, the school takes over education, the doctor manages the medical, the psychologist manages your relationships, the nursery school brings up your children and the Sunday school takes care of the spiritual education. There may be several disciplines in life, but God lays claim to everything in our lives and wants to transform every aspect of our life according to His divine purpose. He is the start of everyone’s life and the solution to everything. The Word addresses everything in our lives and it is the starting point for everything. God is God of everything in our lives! Man is by nature a spiritual being and all solutions start in the spiritual world. Directly and indirectly the Word gives the principles for everything in our society. As believers we cannot hand over certain parts to people so that they can take control of these parts of our lives.

The best space for disciple making to take place is in small groups, communities or families – not necessarily on a one-to-one basis or in huge masses

Disciple making is an intimate, personal working in the lives of people and cannot take place in situations that are too big, too formal or too impersonal. People live according to values and values can only change if people live the true and everyday life in each others presence. The power of example has always been the strongest. You can reason with someone’s theology, but not with the lives people are living. The saying goes – “The man with experience is not at the mercy of the man with the argument.” Our instruction is to love people and in this way to carry out the Great Commission. “People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Each and every one of us needs groups, communities and families where we can learn from example. The poorest person is one who lives on his/her own and has to find answers to everything on his/her own. One-on-one discipleship is good, but it will give you less experience to learn from. One-on-one mentoring also takes a lot of time. We also have to learn that our problems and challenges are not so unique that no one else can associate with them. Each person needs to commit and lay down his/her life in a group that functions like a family in order to receive input and to be accountable to that group. In a large gathering we can all listen together to a sermon, but very little disciple making and life transformation take place there.

Disciple making is a lifestyle without end – it is not about a series of courses

Disciple making is in essence about lifestyle. It is something you are going to work on for the rest of your life and there is never going to be a perfect end. The essence of a lifestyle is also not a matter of having said and done everything perfectly, but it originates from and is motivated by the heart and depends on the attitude in the heart. Disciple making is far more about right attitudes than right words and deeds in the first place. There is also no course that can disciple you perfectly. No course or series of courses about being a disciple is going to finally settle the matter, because the perfect course was already written long ago, namely the Word! The Word is alive and powerful and by the power of the Holy Spirit can awake and change life and then maintain it. To disciple a lifestyle we need real life situations and not courses or sermons.

Preaching the correct doctrine alone does not generate disciples who make disciples

The only place of freedom in the universe is the voice of the Father. No human instruction, course, teaching or preaching can set you free. Preaching is secondhand revelation to the hearers thereof and it will only bring freedom if the hearer goes directly to the Father to hear if that which was preached is indeed true. If mere preaching managed to set people free, the whole world would have been free long ago. It is only God’s voice in the preaching that sets you free if you can hear it. Preaching may bring about theological change in the mind, but it is one of the most ineffective means if your purpose is constant life change.

In churches doctrines are very important. That is the reason why there are so many denominations. Full-time leaders and preachers, who studied for 4 years and more, are appointed to ensure that members do not stray from the doctrines. The purpose of Jesus coming to earth was not in the first place to bring pure teaching, but to reveal the Father in pure living form as a person. It is not the task of leaders to constantly correct members. The Holy Spirit will lead everyone into the full Truth as long as they read the Word. Doctrine is not unimportant, but mere right teachings do not guarantee constant life change. Life change starts by the renewing of your mind, but this is only the start of the process – Romans 12:1-2. To obtain life change, you need your will, emotions and body to work together.

Discipleship is about desire, willingness, discovery, discussion and application – not lectures in classrooms

The willingness, receptivity, desire and openness of a person to be discipled, are the greatest factors which will determine whether it is going to be successful. You cannot disciple adults against their will in spiritual or other matters. A disciple is someone who willingly receives the revelation of the Holy Spirit in his/her life and who lives in obedience thereto. Discipleship is about a will that willingly submits to another will; it is not about an amount of lectures in classrooms where only information is transferred.

Disciple making is not a mere transfer of information, but the transformation of a life in every aspect thereof. In the process of disciple making there is indeed a factor of information or revelation of the truth, but it is the Father Himself who reveals it to the person. We have too many forms of disciple making where we preach to people and the Father gets no opportunity to speak to that person.

Jesus said in John 8:31-32 that someone is a true disciple if he abides in His Word, because then he will know the Truth and the Truth will set him free. Discipleship starts with the desire to personally hear the Father’s voice by reading the Word yourself.  If you do not have this as foundation, you only end up with human advice and laws.

Redefining of discipleship

 

Before conversion we need disciple making – we have to disciple towards conversion!

Mostly in our approach as church, we think of discipleship as something that is exclusive to believers.  The believers must come to church to mature and grow!  It is at this point that everything is turned inwards and we do not even reach out to unbelievers, let alone disciple unbelievers.

There is only one commission and one program for the believers and that is to make disciples of the unbelievers.  This is a foreign concept to us, but in practice we are already discipling our children long before they accept the Lord into their lives.

If we understand the process of disciple making correctly, it will also be easier for us to understand that it is possible to disciple unbelievers.

 

KEY ELEMENTS IN DISCIPLESHIP

Let us look at a few scriptures that specifically make mention of discipleship:

  • John 8:31-32
  • Luke 14:26, 27, 33
  • John 13:34-35
  • John 15:7-13
  • John 15:26-27
  • Acts 20:23-24

Just from these verses we see essential concepts defining discipleship like: abiding in My Word/ loving God above all else/ carrying your cross/ follow Me/ forsaking all that you have/ loving one another/ bearing much fruit/ abiding in My love/ keeping My commandments/ My joy be in you/ laying down your life for your friends/ testifying/ having no worries/ not esteeming your life dear to yourself/ to attest to the good news of God’s grace!

All these words together create a powerful package from which we can distinguish four basic core elements:

  • Accountable towards one another (group)
  • Abiding in the WORD
  • LOVE for one another
  • ATTESTING towards others

The product of discipleship

Man was created for life and abundance in his relationships.  True discipleship can only be to live the same life of abundance which Jesus lived on earth.  Remember, true success lies in reproduction and true discipleship has to be the reproduction of Jesus’ life in every person on earth!  The purpose of discipleship is therefore to take every person on a journey where he/she can discover God by getting to recognize His voice and then adapting his/her life in obedience to what the Word says.

This process of awakening and transfer of life must then be carried on to as many other people as possible.  2 Timothy 2:1-2 – “So you, my son be strong in the grace that is to be found only in Christ Jesus.  And the instructions which you have heard from me along with many witnesses transmit and entrust to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also.”  Discipleship is an exponential matter. The more people are doing it the more people will get involved and the quicker people will get discipled.

Scope of Great Commission

It is very important that we realize the extent or scope of the Great Commission in Matthew 28.

In the first place the order was not so much to reach all the nations, but to disciple all the nations.  The success of the Gospel is not only dependent on people hearing the Gospel, but that they are followers of Jesus who become like Him and do what He did.  True disciples are people who live like Jesus and not those who are only members of a church!

The further extent of the Great Commission was that a small group of about 120 people received the order to disciple the whole world.  Each congregation therefore, has the potential to disciple the whole world.

Is the congregation where you are involved, geared, ready, motivated and equipped to disciple the whole world?  We simply do not think this way, because we are definitely not convinced that it is possible.  The whole way in which we are running our congregation and building our infrastructure, is definitely not according to a mental attitude that we are going to infiltrate the whole world.  Everything is done in order to accommodate people and not to send them out to live as disciple makers.

Four pillars of disciple making (Part 6)

Kingdom Lifestyle

Last year we started to discuss the four pillars of disciple making. It’s now time to zoom in on the fourth pillar which is a Kingdom Lifestyle. In the following weeks we will share video clips and articles which convey our thoughts in this regard.

The following is the first post in the series to refresh your mind on how we started this discussion.

Kingfisher, among others, wants to mobilize the body of Christ to realize God’s Kingdom by praying for the coming of the Kingdom, transforming all spheres of life, address the need in the world and live a disciple making lifestyle that will disciple all nations.  To achieve this we can only learn from our Master and Mobilizer, Jesus Christ. He modeled a Kingdom lifestyle among a small group of men, taught them God’s heart and asked them to go and do the same. When Jesus left them, they could go and reproduce what they experienced within those three years.

What was the elements that produced their life change, which they could reproduce, which started a movement

Within a community of people Jesus changed the disciples’ and many other people’s hearts, relationships and circumstances with His Word and a lifestyle of obedience to His Father. Jesus demonstrated a life that was on the go and His actions sought to rectify everything sin had broken or destroyed. Take note of the key elements: community, Word, obedience and a Kingdom lifestyle. Here we discover Jesus’ approach to mobilize His disciples to continue the realization of His Kingdom.

Mobilizing, in my mind, should therefore have the same elements. We should mobilize leaders in such a way that they can go and reproduce what they experienced. Jesus mobilized people to realize His Kingdom. To mobilize, therefore, is to make disciples the Jesus way, with a specific outcome – a Kingdom lifestyle. To disciple someone is to mobilize someone to realize the Kingdom and to mobilize someone is to disciple someone to realize the Kingdom.

By saying this, it does not take away the need for specialized mobilizing now, because many Christians and faith communities do not live from this foundation Jesus has set for us – a foundation to start a Kingdom movement that can not be stopped. Mobilizing wants to awaken and set people to the ways Jesus taught us a movement will escalates, and to open new horizons and possibilities according to the Hope who lives in us. If we mobilize the Jesus way and people rediscover and reclaim His strategy to reach and heal the world, the need for specialized mobilizing will not be so great in the future.

The four pillars of disciple making and mobilizing I want to explore are: community within a small group, centrality of the Word, obedience in relationships and purposeful witnessing as a Kingdom lifestyle.

Four pillars of disciple making (Part 5)

Obedience

Kingfisher, among others, wants to mobilize the body of Christ to realize God’s Kingdom by praying for the coming of the Kingdom, transforming all spheres of life, address the need in the world and live a disciple making lifestyle that will disciple all nations.  To achieve this we can only learn from our Master and Mobilizer, Jesus Christ. He modeled a Kingdom lifestyle among a small group of men, taught them God’s heart and asked them to go and do the same. When Jesus left them, they could go and reproduce what they experienced within those three years.

What was the elements that produced their life change, which they could reproduce, which started a movement?

Within a community of people Jesus changed the disciples’ and many other people’s hearts, relationships and circumstances with His Word and a lifestyle of obedience to His Father. Jesus demonstrated a life that was on the go and His actions sought to rectify everything sin had broken or destroyed. Take note of the key elements: community, Word, obedience and a Kingdom lifestyle. Here we discover Jesus’ approach to mobilize His disciples to continue the realization of His Kingdom. Continue reading

Four pillars of disciple making (Part 4)

Centrality of the Word

To realize the Kingdom of God, we must learn from our Master and Mobilizer, Jesus Christ. He modeled a Kingdom lifestyle among a small group of men, taught them God’s heart and asked them to go and do the same. When Jesus left them, they could go and reproduce what they experienced within those three years. Jesus mobilized disciples to realize His Kingdom. To mobilize, therefore, is to make disciples the Jesus way, with a specific outcome – a Kingdom lifestyle. To disciple someone is to mobilize someone to realize the Kingdom and to mobilize someone is to disciple someone to realize the Kingdom.

A while ago I started to share thoughts about four pillars of disciple making and mobilizing. We explored the importance of creating community in a small group in our mobilizing efforts. In this post I want to concentrate on the centrality of the Word when we mobilize people to live a Kingdom lifestyle.

The second primary pillar of disciple making is the Word.  The Word is our source of life, without which every person will die spiritually.  The Word which became flesh lives in us through the Holy Spirit, but we have to read and study the written Word in order to feed our spirit!  Matthew 4:4 –“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Continue reading

Four pillars of disciple making (Part 3)

Disciple making communities

One of the most effective places where disciple making happens is within a small group. Nobody was created to live life on your own and a huge part of the success of your life depends on whether you are serving the Lord from within a community. The reason for this in the first place is that man is a being intended for relationship and relationship can only take place and be repaired within a relationship.  You can only learn to swim inside a swimming pool.

In the existence of a living organism, there are two important factors that will determine the health and future of the organism. These two factors are atmosphere and nourishment. A goldfish’s atmosphere is the water and his nourishment is the food that is put into the water.  These must never be two opposing factors, but the one is more important than the other.  A goldfish can survive for days without food, but only 15 minutes outside the water will cause its death.  Therefore you can survive longer without nourishment than without atmosphere.  Atmosphere is a more determining factor than food! Continue reading

Four pillars of disciple making (Part 2)

Groups?

I agree with Neil Cole when he says: “Groups don’t make disciples; disciples make disciples.” That is why intentional disciple making is so important while being part of a small community. A conscious, focused, disciple making lifestyle impacting the lives of one or two people, is the way Jesus taught us. Continue reading

Four pillars of disciple making (Part 1)

Kingfisher, among others, wants to mobilize the body of Christ to realize God’s Kingdom by praying for the coming of the Kingdom, transforming all spheres of life, address the need in the world and live a disciple making lifestyle that will disciple all nations.  To achieve this we can only learn from our Master and Mobilizer, Jesus Christ. He modelled a Kingdom lifestyle among a small group of men, taught them God’s heart and asked them to go and do the same. When Jesus left them, they could go and reproduce what they experienced within those three years.

What was the elements that produced their life change, which they could reproduce, which started a movement

Within a community of people Jesus changed the disciples’ and many other people’s hearts, relationships and circumstances with His Word and a lifestyle of obedience to His Father. Jesus demonstrated a life that was on the go and His actions sought to rectify everything sin had broken or destroyed. Take note of the key elements: community, Word, obedience and a Kingdom lifestyle. Here we discover Jesus’ approach to mobilize His disciples to continue the realization of His Kingdom.

Mobilizing, in my mind, should therefore have the same elements. We should mobilize leaders in such a way that they can go and reproduce what they experienced. Jesus mobilized people to realize His Kingdom. To mobilize, therefore, is to make disciples the Jesus way, with a specific outcome – a Kingdom lifestyle. To disciple someone is to mobilize someone to realize the Kingdom and to mobilize someone is to disciple someone to realize the Kingdom.

By saying this, it does not take away the need for specialized mobilizing now, because many Christians and faith communities do not live from this foundation Jesus has set for us – a foundation to start a Kingdom movement that can not be stopped. Mobilizing wants to awaken and set people to the ways Jesus taught us a movement will escalates, and to open new horizons and possibilities according to the Hope who lives in us. If we mobilize the Jesus way and people rediscover and reclaim His strategy to reach and heal the world, the need for specialized mobilizing will not be so great in the future.

The four pillars of disciple making and mobilizing I want to explore are: community within a small group, centrality of the Word, obedience in relationships and purposeful witnessing as a Kingdom lifestyle.

Imitation and our struggle

“Jesus asked his disciples to imitate His life. That was His process. It was how He passed on the DNA.” (Mike Breen)

We want to mobilise people to make the Kingdom of God a reality, people praying for the coming of the Kingdom, addressing the need in the world, transforming all spheres of life and living as disciple makers. To mobilise effectively we should study the way Jesus made the Kingdom a reality and started His Kingdom movement. We must learn to follow His lead.

Let us journey together and discover by following this link: Mike Breen: Why we don’t disciple like Jesus.

 

Mobilising communities

We want to mobilise people to make the Kingdom of God a reality, people praying for the coming of the Kingdom, addressing the need in the world, transforming all spheres of life and living as disciple makers. To mobilise effectively we should study the way Jesus made the Kingdom a reality and started His Kingdom movement. We must learn to follow His lead. He created the best space where He could influence and change people’s lives according to God’s way. He created community. Within community He mobilised people to change the world. He discipled them in community life, a small group setting. The early Christians recognized it, followed the example and the outcome speaks for itself – for 300 years the church have grown at a rate we have not match up till this day.

Many people in the West have a problem with community. We love to believe in the rugged individual who never needs anyone else. This notion has infiltrated Christianity so that we primarily think of our faith in “personal” terms. We think of our “personal relationship” with Jesus and our private “spiritual walk”. We often attend Christian events with lots of other Christians, but we’re not necessarily involved in anyone’s life. We can attend a worship service with thousands of other people, yet live out the bulk of our faith isolated–just us and our bibles. Living a life secluded from others, we cannot disciple others.

Individualism does not seem to match the expectation God gives his people in the scriptures. God shows us that love, demonstrated in and through sacrificial, gospel-fuelled community, will have transforming effects in lives and communities. God expects his people to live and grow in community. Continue reading

The most effective disciple making space for impacting communities.

What is the most effective space where people can be discipled to live a trans-formative life impacting and changing communities?

Many cultures drift more and more toward individualism. Kingdom minded people should take on the responsibility of moving people into authentic relationships with each other, many through the instigation and encouragement of small groups. I believe the Bible does offer examples of the need for and benefits of smaller units of community.  Continue reading