Foreword on “Vision for Discipleship” series

The Go and make disciples... series of teachings provides a way to rekindle the biblical flame for making disciples. These sessions capture the principles that Jesus, the Master disciple-maker, used in preparing His chosen apostles for their world-changing ministries. In this manual you will find a concentrated, practical approach that imparts a deep spiritual understanding of Jesus’ priority in the training of disciples.

Every living species must somehow reproduce in order to survive. Any successful army must produce trained soldiers. A manufacturer must create finished products in order to stay in business. In the same way, the Body of our Lord must produce disciplined and sanctified lives for it to grow and reproduce in a healthy way.

Discipleship starts with vision. Having a vision for making disciples means understanding and appreciating the Lord’s purposes in spending the bulk of His ministry time with just twelve men. These disciples of Jesus received the full explanation of His teachings and the benefit of personal friendship with Him. When we see that this is still the heart of the Lord’s ministry today to individual men and women through the Holy Spirit, and we are willing to invest in others as Jesus did, we have the vision.

God chose the way of disciple-making as His ultimate means of redeeming the entire world. However, most believers are made into disciples by accident, that is, as a by-product of general church ministry. If there is a shortcut to maturity in the Kingdom of God, it is when seasoned, godly leaders purposefully seek to impart these principles of discipleship in small groups to teachable men and women who want to mature in the Lord.

It has been our experience that using this material in small groups of four or five persons per group is the best way to teach and embrace it. Once a mature Believer has been taught the material, he or she may be able to impart it to others. If a congregation has the goal of discipling all of its members, a good beginning is for all of the leaders to go through this material, and then to teach it to the other congregants. For newer Believers, supplemental discipleship materials may be helpful.

Meeting weekly for a few hours has worked well for our groups. We have kept them gender-distinct —women teaching women and men teaching men. This enables more openness and vulnerability in personal sharing and praying with each other. The memory work is strongly encouraged, as each memorized Scripture becomes a tool in the disciple’s hand to overcome the enemy and to use in ministering to others. The written homework is discussed at the beginning of each class session, and the memory work is shared either alongside the homework or spontaneously interspersed during the teaching time.

Since the leader will be giving the teaching after the Exercise discussion, we have found it best for him or her to merely facilitate that discussion and leave most of the sharing (reading the questions, giving the answers, etc.) to the others in the group. The group leader can enhance the weekly teaching sessions with personal testimonies or insights related to the subject being covered. Although we allow one absence for the ten week series, we strongly encourage everyone to make every class. We emphasize commitment to the Lord, to one’s own spiritual growth, and to those in one’s group for accountability and confidentiality.

Building relationship and trust within the groups is a big part of the discipleship process. When someone misses a class, he or she not only misses the teaching, but also the group interaction time. As a result, to some degree the camaraderie and unity are adversely affected. May these sessions open new doors for you in the great adventure of following Jesus and in the enterprise of making disciples!