Some of the last recorded words of Jesus are found in the ‘‘Great Commission”. These last orders of Jesus are found in all 4 Gospels (a slightly different emphasis is given in each Gospel) and is again repeated in Acts 1: 8. We must conclude that this was very important to Jesus and to the early church.
We shall focus on the Matthew 28: 18-20 account.
Matthew 28: 18-20
Then Jesus came to them [his disciples] and said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them and in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
A Christian is someone who has been born spiritually into the family of God. This is a great start, but is does not make them automatically a disciple or follower of Christ!
John 1: 12-13
Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
A disciple means a follower and learner. These were the original 12 disciples. We are also disciples of Christ - we follow His lead and learn from Him.
Which are you - a Christian or a disciple of Christ?
Which one would you like to be?
“All authority in heaven and on Earth.”
The army officers are headed by the government. They have the authority and orders from their government. We also are an army under God’s orders and Jesus has given us His authority - the permission and the right to advance His Kingdom is ours!
Does Christ have our obedience and loyalty?
Do we need any other authority?
“Go and make disciples.”
God is always on the go. In fact, 2/3 of God is spelt go. He is always taking the first step toward us. He also commands us to go - to take the first step in making disciples of Christ. God wants us to make a plan and then make it happen!
The Greek word ‘make’ (matheteuo) literally means:
to create, to manufacture and to bring forth.
Making disciples - is this a command or an option for me?
“Of all nations.”
The word nation means ‘ethnos’. Every ethnic group (cultural and linguistic group) must be included.
How many different ethnic groups are there in your country?
How are we doing in making disciples of Christ in these groups?
“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus is clearly committed to getting the job finished. He wants to give everyone a chance to hear the gospel. Jesus promises that he will not give up nor stop until everyone has heard. 2 Peter 3: 9.
His plan “A” is to reach the world through us. And the method is to “make disciples” of Christ in all nations.
We have witnessed for Jesus and someone has just become a Christian. We may think our job is finished, in reality, it has just started. If this new child of God is to become a disciple of Christ we must help them in their first steps as a young Christian. We must not abandon them as if they were an orphan!
1 Thessalonians 2: 7-8
“We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
‘Gentle’, ‘caring’, ‘so dear to us’, ‘loved you’, ‘Delighted to share with you... our lives’.
Most of us used the Knowing God Personally booklet as an evangelistic booklet. But it is also a good follow-up tool. Some advantages in using it:
The person has just prayed to receive Christ. What now?
Timing is important. Some things have to happen immediately, the next day or over the next few weeks. Do not lead them to Christ and then leave them alone!
Never laugh at their questions. There are no stupid questions!
Don’t expect them to change overnight.
Be a friend to them by getting together for reasons other than follow-up.
When someone becomes a Christian we say they are added to the family of God. This is a great thing and there is rejoicing in heaven (Luke 15:10). But there is something even greater than spiritual addition - it is spiritual multiplication.
Apostle Paul is telling Timothy:
2 Timothy 2: 2
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
A biblical pattern for spiritual multiplication:
Paul (Spiritual father)
Timothy (Younger man)
Reliable men (Younger men in the faith)
Others (Babies in Christ)
Paul did not stop when someone was added to the family of God; rather he took it a step further and multiplied himself through people like Timothy.
Paul did not just spend his time with anyone; rather he invested his time with the right people. He selected those people who would reproduce themselves!
Win people to Christ.
Build the ‘reliable’ ones into disciples of Christ.
Send them to win others...
generation after generation, after generation, etc.
The person God uses to make disciples of Christ:
No experts need to apply. However, there are some basic requirements that are needed if God is going to use someone to make disciples of Christ.
You need to... (see next four pages)
Discipleship is not just an activity but rather a lifestyle. It’s not just doing but rather being. You need to share your life with them and not just take them through good Bible materials. Be involved in their lives through sport, a diner, watching movies together, etc.
See John 15: 15
Things are better caught, not taught. When we are passing things onto a younger Christian they follow our example more than our words. We model the Christian life for them. Sometimes our life may speak so loud that it prevents us from making disciples of Christ.
See 1 Corinthians 11: 1
In this world there are those who give and those that take. If you want to make disciples of Christ, then follow Jesus’ example and be a giver. This takes your time, energy and resources. Encouragement is the life blood of discipleship. An encourager is a giver!
See Acts 11: 19-30
Sometimes hard things need to be said. The “wounds of a friend can be trusted”. And “open rebuke is better than hidden love”. You need to earn the right to say difficult things. Get their permission first and then hold them accountable by asking them the rough questions.
See Proverbs 27: 5-6
Some of us may think that the Holy Spirit is an optional extra to the Christian life. A bit like some extra options on a car! We think that perhaps when we reach a higher level in our walk with God then we will receive the Spirit. This is not biblical thinking and it is not God’s plan for his children.
John 14: 16-18
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counsellor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth... you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.
Advantages to using The Life Booklet:
Watch the example of the trainers.
Share this booklet with the four Christians on your best 4x4xFaith list. Make a new plan now - decide the time and place.
Share the booklet and then leave it with them.
Jesus went public for only 3 years. His task was to reach the world. That is a lot of people! Yet, for the sake of the many, He focused on a few. He formed a flexible, mobile band of disciples into a group ready for action. Jesus then investedall His time and energy into this action group, who later would “turn the world upside down”(Acts 17: 6)
Mark 3: 13-14
Jesus went up to a mountainside and called to him those He wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve - designated them apostles - that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
(Most answers found in the Mark Passage)
The Liverpool FC anthem says: “You’ll never walk alone.”
It is good to be in a small group - it is there that we experience Christian community. But what is the best type of small group to be part of?
How could I invest my time and not just spend it in a fellowship group?
What type of small group did Jesus model to us?
Win people to Christ - this is spiritual addition.
Build the ‘reliable’ ones into disciples of Christ - this is discipleship.
Send them to win others - this is spiritual multiplication.
We see spiritual addition but rarely does it go onto multiplication.
The answer: that missing link called discipleship.
We are not building disciples of Christ.
We stop at adding converts to the Church. We do not take it further and help these young children of God grow in Christ and then reproduce themselves!
Matthew 4: 19
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.
We have “come” to Jesus (at conversion). And Jesus promises that He will make us fishers of men.
True or false? If we were not fishing for men, then we are not following Jesus!
(Remember: a disciple is a follower)
Making disciples doesn’t need unusual skills. Above all it need deliberate intention.
You have to make a plan and then make it happen.
Make the decision now to have your own action group.
If you want to dig in the garden you use a shovel, not a pen! In life we know that we need the right tools for certain jobs. In making disciples of Christ we also need the right tools in our hands. We need to be tooled up with the best materials available and the skills to know how to use them. These tools will help you teach the Bible and reach out to unbelievers.
Paul tells Timothy:
2 Timothy 4: 2
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction.
The order in which you use the following materials (next pages) is important. There is a sequence where each one builds on the other. If you skip some, then you may not build a firm foundation.
Use the Knowing God Personally booklet as your first follow-up tool.
(See 1st Steps in workshop 1, part 2).
The ABC’s of the Christian life:
When starting your action
group, it is wise to use SEED (group) material and start at the beginning following the suggested numbers 1 to 10.
Even if your action group members are older in their faith, reminding them of the basics is still a good idea.
How much time will you need for each study of SEED material? It is not a race. So take the time that it needs to complete each session. Remember that the aim is not just to take people through the material, but rather to see transformation and growth.
1. Living and Telling the Good News
This series of workshops is for training Christians and will help you pass on the skills of how to share your faith and using your personal testimony. It can be used in a small or large group.
2. Evangelism materials
There are a number of good materials which can be used in sharing your faith such as
- Perspective cards
- Connect studies 1-6
The best way to help someone share their faith is to involve them in your action group and let them watch you. Remember: things are better caught than taught!
3. SEED training materials
There are 10 SEED training sessions available on how to share the gospel such as:
- Asking good questions
- Everyday evangelism
- Leading people to Christ
4. Other material
At Agapè we are constantly developing new materials that will help you reach out. Check the “Resource kit for Student Leaders” at the Agapè Europe website. There you can find all the materials mentioned in this workshop.
Look at each set of material now. Decide what you need to use.
Sometimes we can get so busy in the ministry of God that we forget the God of the ministry. How to maintain a fresh and honest relationship with God is key. Reading the Bible and hearing from God is an important part of our own Christian life and teaching younger disciples of Christ to do the same is one of the best things we can pass onto them.
Psalm 25: 4-5
Show me your ways, o Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.
If you had a choice to buy a car and money was not a problem:
Would you buy old or new?
Would you prefer a 2nd hand car over a 1st hand car?
If you had a choice of hearing from God through the Bible (His revealed will to us):
Would you prefer 1st or 2nd hand?
Would you want to learn directly from God or hear from God via your pastor?
Just hearing the Bible from your pastor is not enough! This is second best if you are feeding on the left overs from someone else’s spiritual meal. God has a personal banquet waiting just for you.
Quiet time is our personal time with God.
God wants to have an appointment with you each day where He can talk to you one to one through the reading of the Bible and where you can talk to Him through prayer.
We are sometimes too busy to keep that appointment. We lose out and our closeness with God begins to slop. Our love for Him begins to go cold!
Beware of the barrenness of a busy life!
1. Make time
Try to have a regular time each day. Most people find that the morning is the best time.
Develop the habit reading the Bible every day - whether you feel like it or not!
This is a good habit that will lead to Godly character.
2. Find a good place
A quiet and comfortable place is needed. Make that room, that chair a holy place. Pray over it and make it your own private sanctuary.
3. Use a notebook
Sometime we read the Bible like a newspaper, just looking at the headlines. We need help to understand and go deeper into the Bible. A notebook and pen helps us to read (study) the Bible with purpose.
4. Getting a grip on the Bible
Thinking deeply about what you have read or heard. Like how a cow chews the same food over and over until it is completely digested.
5. Where to start
Gospel of Mark - read one chapter a day. As you read it ask the following questions:
is there a:
Sin to avoid
Promise to believe
Attitude to change
Command to follow
Example to follow
I commit myself to have a daily quiet time for at least fifteen minutes with God for the next month.
Choose a time and place where you can do this.
Revival may be under way in our college or community but without effective discipleship it will lose momentum and fade away. Since we know that Jesus’ way of doing ministry is making disciples through His action group, then how do we get started?
A group of people meeting regularly to disciple one another with the aim of evangelism becoming a way of life.
No lone rangers!
This is not a once off meeting
There is a Godly purpose
There are two important parts to the group:
The leader’s goal is to make disciples of Christ who will be spiritual multipliers.
(Refer to the Best 4x4xFaith leaflet).
So you want to have an action group. Where do you find the right people - those who will be ready for action?
Jesus selected people whom He would invest in. He did not just spend His time with any one. When Jesus said ‘yes’ to include Peter in His action group, He also said ‘no’ to others. We must follow the example of Jesus.
Jesus also tells us: “Do not throw your pearls [your valuable time & energy] to pigs.” (Matthew 7: 6). This is often where we make our biggest mistake.
If we select the wrong people then our action group will not become a group. It will rather stay a series of many small meetings with individuals and there will certainly be no action!
Select people who are:
What happens if any of these three qualities are missing in the people you select?
Even after a lot of prayer there is still room for mistakes in your selection process. Remember: Judas was also selected to be part of Jesus’ action group. Did Jesus make a mistake?
Invite each person on your list to your first meeting.
Choose the best time and place to suit everyone.
Use simple terms to explain the purpose and vision of the action group.
As a leader you need to make
all this happen.
This will take longer and require more energy than you think!
This is a key event. It is the first time all the individuals are together in the same place with the purpose of forming an action group.
Start as you mean to go on:
Be on time
Be well prepared.
Share your vision with the
group - include a scripture and be enthusiastic (10-15 min.)
Pray together (10-15 min.)
Do something social e.g. have an ice breaker, or play a game, or eat pizza. (30 min.)
One week later, set the pattern for the rest of the meetings (2 hours).
After your second meeting some group members may choose to leave. They may give the excuse that they do not have time. But remember, making a commitment to witnessing can be scary!
The hardest part of leading your action group is getting started. It needs lots of energy, patience and enthusiasm from the leader. Do not give up too easily, especially in the first month.
Read the Best 4x4xFaith again.
Prayerfully select the four people you want to disciple in your action group.
Prayer is talking to God. In one sense it is simple, but in other ways it is difficult. There is a certain mystery with prayer, after all we are talking to God and He is spirit. It is God’s desire to hear our prayers. In fact, our heavenly father listens more than His children actually want to talk to Him
Philippians 4: 5-7
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer is two-way communication and it keeps us up close and personal with the Lord.
If we are honest, very few of us are completely happy with how we pray. Prayer is an important part of our lives we all need to grow in. Like the first disciples of Jesus we also say: “Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11: 1)
How did Jesus train his action group (disciples) to pray?
In any good relationship we need to be committed to both speaking and listening.
We sometimes need a few ideas to help us in our communication skills.
Record what you pray for in a notebook.
This helps you remember answers to prayer and therefore be more thankful.
Here is a suggested way that you could try in your next quiet time with God.
Read a Psalm and think about who God is. Let your imagination get excited about the character of God. Tell the Lord how much you love Him. Adore God for who He is.
Confessing our sin
Ask God to show you what un-confessed sin there is in your life. Agree with God that it is sin and repent from it. In other words - breathe spiritually.
For what He is doing in your life - both the good and the bad!
Sharing needs with God
Bring to the Lord those needs that are in your life and the world around you.
Start your own prayer diary. Plan to pray five minutes in your daily quiet time during the next month.
When you aim at nothing, then you are sure to hit it. The danger with an action group is that it can easily change into a nice comfortable fellowship group that becomes inward looking. The action group leader’s desire should be to send disciples of Christ out from the group into the real world to be “salt and light.”
(Everyone should sign up to...)
Evangelism - to be witnessing weekly
Attend the action group every week
Meet regularly with the leader for one-on-one personal time
Plan to lead their own action group within a year
Losing sight of the objective: Remember that your aim is to make disciples of Christ who will multiply themselves spiritually. You are not just leading a group.
Lack of witnessing together: If you do not model witnessing then they will not follow. Remember, things are better caught than taught!
Lack of prayer for your group members: The Holy Spirit is at work in your life and theirs. A lack of prayer in the leader’s part can show lack of dependence on the Lord.
Little personal involvement in their lives: Just seeing the group members for ‘spiritual business’ will make the group weak. You need to do ‘normal’ life stuff!
Becoming like a school teacher: Just getting through the material can become your curriculum. You settle for only taking them through the programme and you no longer want to see change.
Poor discussion in the group: Perhaps this is the first group you have led and you are inexperienced. Maybe you are not prepared ahead of time and do not know the material well. Or perhaps the group members are just difficult people to lead. We all need help.
Look at the four pictures.
It is not a lecture.
The group leader does all the thinking.
It is not a long dialogue.
The group leader has a long chat with just one member. The rest feel ignored.
It is not a series of conversations.
The group leader has several chats with individual group members.
It is a group discussion.
Everyone feels free to speak. The Bible is the focus, not the leader.
Open ► Direct ► Conclude
Even an inexperienced group leader can use this simple three step method to guide the discussion so that all the group members feel that they can have their say. The Bible is the focus and not the leader.
Questions are open or closed. They either encourage or kill discussion!
Your personal movement.
What would happen on your campus, community or workplace when the four people in your action group were to start their own action group within a year?
They would repeat with other people, what they have seen you do with them. They also would begin to make disciples of Christ. You would be multiplying yourself. This second generation of making disciples of Christ is called a spiritual movement.
But be warned: it can go to a third generation... and beyond!
This manual serves as an introduction of the ‘Living and ...’ series of workshops. The 15 sessions are bundled in 3 documents:
These documents can be downloaded individually.
Living and Making disciples is the second series of sessions and will equip you to ‘make disciples’ as Jesus commanded us to.
The first part of each session is teaching. We are looking at the Bible. This deals with our heart.
The second part is workshop in usingthose biblical principles in a practical way. This deals with our hands.
Disciples are made, not born
‘The Life’ booklet
Where the action is!
Getting the right tools
Starting your action group
Up close & personal
Leading your action group
All scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version, NIV. Used by permission.
3rd edition, April 2014.
© Copyright: Agapè Europe
Design: Cliff Studios