by Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick, adapted from their new book, The Disciple Maker’s Handbook: 7 Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle, a Discipleship.org resource.
Imagine a day when Jesus-style disciple making is the norm for the local church:
- Everyday Christians are engaged in relationships with people (inside and outside the church) so that they can show the love of Jesus and help people to trust and follow him.
- Churches are known as disciple-making places, where Jesus-like people are created.
- Pastors are evaluated by the people they raise up and the disciple makers they have made in the Spirit’s power.
- Jesus’ message and Jesus’ methods dominate.
What will it take? We believe that this day will come as God moves among us and as God’s people live out certain beliefs. If the following beliefs resonate with you and you can support them, then we hope you will join us. These beliefs are the DNA of a disciple-making movement.
- We believe the gospel and it is our message—this good news is focused on Jesus as our Messiah (King) and his death, burial, and resurrection. All who respond to salvation are freely saved and called to discipleship, no exceptions, no excuses (Mark 8:34–38; 1 Cor. 15:1–8). The gospel we preach and believe dictates the kind of disciples we are and the kind of disciples we make. If we attempt to make a Christlike disciple from a non-discipleship gospel, we will fail. A non-discipleship gospel is one that does not include discipleship as a natural part of the message and expectation.
- We are compelled to be and make disciples of Jesus. We believe Jesus Christ is supreme and worthy of all devotion, worship, and emulation, and disciple making is a natural and necessary life response to Jesus. With laser focus, it was Jesus himself who made disciples who could make disciples . . . and Jesus commands us to do the same (Matt. 28:16–20; John 20:21).
- We believe Jesus is the model (for life and ministry). Jesus showed us how to live life and how to make disciples. We seek to emulate his method and model. As the sinless second Adam, Jesus was man as God intended man to be. He then told us, “Do the works I have been doing” (John 14:12). We like the expression “Jesus’ model and method of disciple making” as a summary of what we do.
- We believe love is the driving motive. The Great Commandment precedes the Great Commission. Loving God and loving people is the passion behind the priority, the motive behind the mission, the heart behind the hands. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
- We believe verifiable fruit is the measure. God’s agenda for each one of us is that we stay close to him and bear “fruit,” “more fruit,” and then ultimately “much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). God transforms our hearts as we “remain in
” and he leads us into lives of love (John 15:4, 17). There is a natural process of moving people from those who do not know Jesus all the way to becoming mature disciple makers . . . and Jesus showed the model to us.
- We believe Holy Spirit power is the means. Disciples cannot be made through fleshly efforts. Disciple making is not just a good strategy . . . it is a way of life, accomplished through the fruit of the Holy Spirit living through a person’s yielded and holy life (2 Cor. 3:16–17).
- We believe the local church is the primary environment for disciple making. The church is for discipleship, and disciples manifest the kingdom of God to the world (Col. 1:28–29). When the church reverses this process and attempts to get the world to go to church instead of the church going to the world, you get chaos.
- We believe that equipping leaders is the linchpin of the movement. All Christians are called to be disciples who grow to help make disciples, using the unique gifts God has given each of us. Leaders are also called to grow a movement of disciple making. This is called the church (2 Tim. 2:2). If we are going to create a disciple-making movement in North America, it is our conviction we must train leaders in how Jesus built a movement.
- We believe definitions are vitally important. (1) Our definition of disciple making—helping people to trust and follow Jesus (Matt. 28:18–20), which includes the whole process from conversion through maturation and multiplication; and (2) our definition of a disciple—a person who is following Christ, being changed by Christ, and is committed to the mission of Christ (Matt. 4:19 ESV).
- We believe Jesus and Scripture are the basis. We believe the sixty-six books of the Bible are the authoritative, reliable, and ultimate standard for disciple making and life (2 Tim. 3:16–4:2) and that Jesus, as presented in the Bible and appropriately described by the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, rightfully deserves our focus and our commitment to a life of full discipleship.
— Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick of discipleship.org, from their new book The Disciple Maker’s Handbook: 7 Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle
How to Use This Book
Do you know how to make disciples who make disciples? This book will take “the guesswork” out of the work of discipleship.
This book gives you both a biblical framework for discipleship and a powerful process for discipling others – in other words, everything you need to become a disciple who disciples others.
This book is “a helpful and practical guide for those of us who want to actually leave behind a legacy of changed lives,” writes pastor and author Larry Osborne. “I encourage you to read it carefully.”