Words carry different meanings for different people. Lately, the word “disciple-maker” has become a common word used by Christians around the world. What do we mean by it? What exactly is the difference between a disciple and a disciple-maker? Am I one? These are important questions to ask and answer.
To put it simply, a disciple-maker is someone who is not only a follower of Jesus but also obeys the Lord’s command to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). Many (including this author) would argue that you can not be a disciple unless you also are a disciple-maker. When you become a disciple, you choose to follow the commands of Jesus, our Leader and Lord.
Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations. In reality, this means we must not only make disciples, but we also make disciple-makers.
Marie is a Christian, Is She a Disciple?
She goes to church every Sunday. Marie loves to sing and is on the worship team. Four years ago she began attending church. Her friend invited her to come hear a Christian band play. She listened to the invitation at the end of the performance and went forward to accept Jesus as Lord.
Her life has changed a lot. She stopped partying with her friends and hanging out with the people who smoke and drink. Marie reads her Bible most days and says a prayer before her meals. She loves God and is trying her best to be a “good Christian.” If you asked her if she was a disciple of Jesus, she would say “yes.” Is she?
The Difference Between a Disciple and a Disciple-maker
Most Christians would say they are disciples of Jesus. If they attend church and have put their faith and trust in Christ, they call themselves disciples. Being a disciple is more than just attending church faithfully however. It’s more than listening to your pastor preach, praying, reading your Bible, and faithfully paying your tithe.
To be a disciple, you must choose to follow the Way of Jesus. This means a willingness to obey His commands and consistently choosing to seek His will. It means prioritizing His purposes and seeking to be transformed into His likeness.
Here is the problem. We have allowed ourselves to believe that we can be a “disciple” of Jesus, follow Him, but not obey His command to also make more disciples. This is a wrong with this way of thinking. It doesn’t add up.
In reality, you can not be a disciple of Jesus if you don’t also obey His commands. In John 8:31 Jesus spoke about this.
In John 14:15 Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” The way we show we love Christ is through our obedience to His instructions.
This includes all of His commands; to pray, to repent and believe, to love Him and our neighbors, to generously give to those in need, to be baptized, to observe the Lord’s supper often, to share the good news with others, and to make disciples. Those who love Jesus, and call themselves disciples must obey Him in all things.
Why the Emphasis on Disciple-Making?
We need to correct an imbalanced understanding in the church today. Though we often realize we must be obedient in other commands, we forget that Jesus also commanded all His followers to make disciples. We are to go and make disciples of those in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Being active in disciple-making is the joy and privilege of every believer.
It is not only the work of professional pastors and missionaries. Every follower of Jesus can and must learn to share His love and message with their circle of influence. These may be those you work with, go to school with, your neighbors, friends, or relatives. For some, it means crossing cultural or geographic boundaries to take His message to those from other ethnic and language groups.
Though not everyone is called to cross the seas, we are all called to love our neighbors. Some of our neighbors are from other faith backgrounds. They may be Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Animist, or Atheist. How will you build bridges of friendship and share God’s love with them? How could you be a disciple-maker, leading them to know Jesus and become His follower, then also training them to make more disciples of Christ?
The mission of Disciple Makers Increase is to help ordinary people impact nations. We do this by offering training in how to make disciples who make disciples.
God has saved and transformed us. He is changing us day by day. Spending time with Jesus in prayer and in His Word,as well as in community with other disciples, helps us grow.
We don’t only grow so we can become better people, more righteous and holy, though. Our growth in relationship with Christ must overflow in love for those who don’t yet know Him.
Are you a disciple or a disciple-maker?
If you have been following Jesus in certain ways, but haven’t yet embraced your calling to makes disciples of the Master, you can do that today! Take a moment to ask God to help you obey Jesus in this area.
Need more training in how to make and multiply disciples? Check out our online training courses called “Getting Started in Disciple Making Movements” or “Next Steps in Missions.” Both of these trainings will help you grow and move forward in disciple-making.
Let’s obey Jesus. We can show how very much we appreciate all He has done for us by becoming disciples who make disciples! Amen?
Share what stood out to you in the article in the comments below. Mention one action you’d like to take to put what you’re learning into practice this week.