Jesus came to die for a world enslaved to sin. He set us free, and His last command to us before He left this Earth was to go out and make disciples of all nations.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them 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” (Matthew 28:19-20).
This isn’t just sharing the Gospel with people; it’s helping people grow from being infants to mature Christians in Christ who are ready to help others grow in the faith. Do you get it? Jesus saw disciple-making as the best way to bring people into a growing relationship with Him that will change their lives forever.
God gives us a biblical model for disciple-making in 1 Thessalonians 2. Study the following diagram and read the passage below the diagram and the descriptions of the stages: a) like a mother; b) like a father; and c) like a brother.
Stages of Discipleship:
As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother [a] 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. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father [b] deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. For you, brothers, [c] became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out (1 Thessalonians 2:6b-15a).
- Stage one: Like a mother caring for little children.
In this stage we surround new believers with the love and grace of God. We gently help them understand the amazing gifts and blessings of being a believer. We feed milk at first—small portions of the Word—to help them see how God’s grace and love which will transform their hearts and minds. The lessons that correlate to stage one are:
- Jesus’ Death and Resurrection for Us
- The Gift of Grace
- Our Identity in Christ
- The Gift of the Holy Spirit
- The Gift of God’s Word
- The Gift of Prayer: Talking with and Listening to God
- The Body of Christ – the Gift of the Church
- The Gift of Faith
- Stage two: As a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God.
In stage two we help a new believer understand that God’s laws bring freedom. We teach about accountability and urge them to live lives that are transformed by God’s power. The lessons that correlate to stage two are:
- Brokenness and Justice
- Victory in Spiritual Battles
- Attitude and Behavior Checks
- Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Confronting in Love
- Current Issues – Media, Entertainment, Dating, Etc.
- Stage three: For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen.
In stage three, believers are ready to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. We realize that the most important thing that we can do on this earth is bring people into a growing relationship with Jesus. Disciple-making becomes a natural part of our lives. The lessons that correlate to stage three are:
- Sharing the Greatest News
- Becoming Disciple-makers