Our resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” This is known as “The Great Commission” because it was Jesus’ final mandate to the Church. It displays, in essence, the heart and DNA of God for His Church.
When first reading it, “go,” “make disciples,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” all sound like verbs. But in the original text, there is only one main verb in the verse, “make disciples (matheteuo-be or become a disciple).” “Go,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are all participles that gain their direction from the main verb in Jesus’ command. So Jesus’ command was for His followers to do for others what He had done with them, make learners of Christ of all nations. How does one do that? By going, by baptizing (which includes evangelism), and by teaching.
To make a disciple however, one must first be a disciple. Only disciples can make disciples. We reproduce what we are. Only growing leaders grow leaders. Over time, words change. The weight of a word may increase or deteriorate depending upon the culture in which it is used. So Scripturally what is a disciple? The literal meaning of the word disciple as used in the New Testament is “learner or pupil.” Jesus said in Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher (NKJV).” Making disciples necessitates training and learning.
Jesus said in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (NKJV).” This is known as the Great Commandment. Most Christians today are content to love God with heart and soul dismissing their minds from the pursuit. But true disciples love the Lord with all they have, including their minds. Being a disciple then means that knowledge is required, and knowledge is the fruit of the mind. It can thus be stated then that “The Great Commission” can only effectively flow out of the life of one practicing “The Great Commandment.” Love for God with heart, soul, and mind compels one to impart the knowledge that is gained to others who are seeking out the truth. This is what it means to be a disciple-making disciple.
We believe that making disciple-making disciples should be the work of all believers. The Great Commission is not merely a suggestion for vocational ministers; it is a command for all Christ-followers. No one is excluded. Whether one is a schoolteacher, construction worker, pastor, bank manager, politician, or stay-at-home mom, the priority of their life must be to train other learners of Christ.
Jesus entrusted to His disciples this glorious Gospel and believed that as they followed this new way of Kingdom living, others would become disciple-making disciples as well until the world would come to know Him through the principle of multiplication. It must have worked. You and I are followers today.
Disciple-Making Disciples is more about men than methods. These quotes from The Master Plan of Discipleship by Robert Coleman encapsulate my heart:
It all started with Jesus calling a few men to follow him. This revealed immediately the direction his evangelistic strategy would take. His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow. Remarkable as it may seem, Jesus started to gather these men before he ever organized an evangelistic campaign or even preached a sermon in public. Men were to be his method of winning the world to God. (pg 21)
This is why, we must say with E.M. Bounds that men are God’s method. Until we have such people imbued with his Spirit and committed to his plan, none of our methods will work. (pg 97)
This is the new evangelism we need. It is not better methods but better men and women who know their redeemer from personal experience -men and women who see his vision and feel his passion for the world – men and women who are willing to be nothing so he might be everything – men and women who want only for Christ to produce his life in and through them according to his good pleasure. This finally is the way the Master planned for his objective to be realized on the earth, and where it is carried through by his strategy, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the evangelization of the world. (pg 97)
Currently serving as a student pastor, I see youth pastors everywhere frantically searching for a new method from the latest, most popular youth pastor living. Our churches are eaten up with church-growth models, new initiatives, seeker services, and powerless fads. And in most cases, the problem is not finding a better method at all. We severely need to learn to make better men and women – disciples who are sold out to the commandment of making disciples of all nations. This is the mission of Disciple-Making Disciples.