Discipleship: Is it a Curriculum, or a Process?
Although not wanting to repeat what others have said, and said well, one cannot begin a discussion of becoming or making a mature disciple without beginning with Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:18-20, commonly called the “Great Commission.” As an example of the VERY GOOD materials and training produced by others, let’s look at the beginning portion of Building Spiritual Reproducers, a resource available from CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Connection).
1. What Is Disciplemaking?
a. Disciplemaking IS NOT just a curriculum or program.
b. Disciplemaking IS the process of helping one grow spiritually in the context of relationship.
Then Jesus came to them 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 am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
To Timothy my true son in the faith…1 Tim 1:2 (NIV)
c. Disciplemaking is God’s Plan. And there’s no Plan B!
2. Why Disciple? a. To be Obedient. Jesus affirmed the Great Commandment and expects us to obey it.
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Luke 10:27 NIV). Likewise, Jesus gave us the Great Commission and expects us to obey it too.
b. To be like Christ (our Teacher). “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40 NIV c. To Glorify God.
“This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8 (NIV)
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16 (NIV)
From this we see that disciplemaking is a process; it is more than just completing some program or curriculum. We also see that a genuine relationship between at least two people is an essential environment in which disciplemaking occurs. And we see that disciplemaking both glorifies God and produces spiritual growth.
But as good as this is as a beginning, it does raise some other important questions. For example, if there is no growth, is disciplemaking happening? Even if there is some growth, can we be sure disciplemaking is occurring? What kind of relationship is necessary for disciplemaking? What does the process of disciplemaking look like? And how does one know when the process has been successful, that a mature disciple has been produced? Is it enough if the person you disciple goes on to do with someone else what you did with him?