Do We All Really Make Disciples In Different Ways?

20130507-092440.jpgIn order to answer the question, we need to have some consensus on what it means to make a disciple. But first, let’s dispel any notion that “we don’t make disciples, Jesus does.” It would be better to say that “no one regenerates the heart other than the trinitarian God.” (Ezekiel 36:26) No one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws them.” (John 6:44)

There is a sense by which the words believer and disciple are synonymous, and there is a sense where a disciple/learner/student/follower may not yet be born again. He spoke “to those Jews who had believed Him,” and He said to them, “if you continue in (abide in) My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” John 8:31-32. I’d be glad to discuss this idea further in the comment section, but for now I think we can agree that there may be persons “following” their way into being a disciple.

Discipleship, or the process of Making a Disciple begins before one believes, and in this author’s opinion, continues unto the end of our earthly lives. Also, and for the purposes of this post, I’ll place “evangelism” within the actions of discipleship. I’ll take Mark 16:15 – (Preaching the Gospel to all of creation) and place it within the “Go” of Matthew 28,19,20 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

One of “all” the commands which Jesus would have passed on to all generations of the church is “Make Disciples.” Not only did Jesus command it, He also gave the manner in which we were to obey/observe the command.

In the Great Commission, (Let’s not squabble over the term, but instead embrace the heart of our savior in it) Jesus said that the “means by which” we are to Make Disciples are as follows:

“Go” – Going is not simply “as you are going about your lives.” It would be better translated as “Go, and having gone.” It is an intentional departure with God ordained purpose.

“Baptize” – Baptizing or immersing people in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit in much more than water is also a component of Making Disciples.

“Teach” – Teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded. The command to “Make Disciples” included.

All three of these words, “Go,” “baptize,” and “Teach,” are not verbs in the strict sense, but participles of means. In other words, they are the means by which (according to Jesus) disciples are made. Can the execution of the tasks of going, baptizing, and teaching take on different forms? Can they be expressed in different ways? Can a diverse body with different gifts and talents execute these means with flexibility? I would answer yes, but…

For me, it’s either go or don’t go. It’s either Baptize or don’t baptize. It’s teach or don’t teach. But, the manner in which I intentionally go may look a bit different than your manner of going. The manner in which I baptize may look a bit different than the manner in which you baptize. And, the manner in which I teach may certainly look different than the manner in which you teach.

So, back to the original question:

Do we really all Make Disciples in different ways, or do we execute the means by which we make disciples in different ways. Does it make a difference?


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    1. I suppose if you want to expand Go, baptize and teach to include everything related to following christ and influencing others to do the same then yes its really only the means that is different.
      So no I don’t think it makes a difference, because we will each interpret each of those terms differently.
      “Go” could mean all sorts, from actually going to another town, to just going about your business.
      If baptizing means actual water baptism and/or baptism in the spirit then there would be some who don’t practice that, but that would not discount their disciple making efforts.
      Remember Jesus said “teaching them to obey ALL I have commanded you” so technically if we miss out anything we’re not doing the job 100%.
      A lot of this has todo with how someone reads passages like this. If they read it with an individualistic mindset they will mistakenly think Jesus is telling them specifically to fulfill all these things, if they have more of a group mindset they will see this as a command given to the entire body of christ as a whole, so while we should all live with the spirit of this mission, its gonna play out very differently for each of us.
      The best way to interpret how this commissioning was to be lived out is to look at the lives of the church collectively post pentacost… and i don’t mean paul or peter though it would include them. Thats more accurate than the ‘everyone a missionary’ or ‘everyone a leader’ guilt trip that gets laid upon believers these days. As if we all need to be living in some sort of counter culture intentional subculture bubble.

    2. Does it make a difference? is a good question. Right now, there are not enough people going, baptizing and teaching so that the gospel can be heard by everyone on the planet, so the important thing is that we do it. I’ve been challenged in my reflection and observation lately of how many pastors and church leaders aren’t following through on this command. Mainly because they need rediscipled themselves. If this is the case for so many church leaders, what will the followers be doing?
      Peace to you and yours. Keep up the good work and challenging thoughts.

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