I admit it I love to preach. I love to teach Bible studies. I love to serve the Lord and His people by setting up chairs, sweeping floors, or making coffee. I am a terrible singer, so I don’t try to lead singing, but I love to give financially to our Father and to kingdom causes. All of these are worthwhile activities, and they can accomplish wonderful results.
However, none of them comes close to the lasting impact of personal discipleship. That’s what produces wholehearted followers of Jesus.
It’s not close at all.
Jesus obviously had a robust preaching, healing, and deliverance ministry, Jesus’ primary means of reaching the lost, restoring them, and sending them was personal discipleship. This was His foremost method for changing the world.
This shouldn’t surprise us. From the infancy of His ministry, Jesus was inviting men to walk with Him. We discover one record of those first invitations in Mark 1:16–20. As you read this passage, slow down and consider how personal Jesus’ words were.
As [Jesus] was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went away to follow Him.
Did you notice that two times the text says, “He saw . . .”? “He saw Simon and Andrew.” “He saw James . . . and John his brother.” Let that sink in. Jesus saw these men individually. He did not see a group or a crowd; He saw each man. He then invited them to walk with Him.
He could have described the relationship any way He wanted. He could have said, “Let Me be your teacher.” “Let Me be your master.” Instead, He invited them to “follow” Him. The implication is obvious: Jesus was going to walk in a certain direction and teach certain things, and He wanted them to actively trail behind Him.
Follow is a critical word in making disciples in the twenty-first century. The terms Christian and believer have been reduced to superficial feel-goods. Meanwhile, the church has created an environment where someone can actually be a Christian but not a follower. To follow someone, however, denotes action. The one leading leads according to his or her timing and agenda; the one following . . . follows! Jesus invited these men to come with Him, for He was intentionally going to make them into something new. He was going to make them “fishers of men.” Whatever might happen in their following, Jesus would be leading in a specific direction. Down the road, these followers would be expected to go and do—Jesus would expect them to “catch” other men and women and make them followers as well.
The disciples’ training journey was not easy. They regularly struggled to understand what Jesus was saying, let alone how to replicate it. Yet Jesus was constantly there to assure, clarify, correct, affirm, and encourage. So, while His public ministry was powerful, personal discipleship was His transformational ministry strategy for changing the world.
It’s not enough for us to learn about discipleship—we need to be willing, as veteran Christians, to lead people personally, to have them follow us in a circle of personal discipleship.
This Blog article is an excerpt from MAKE: Unlock People, the third book in our BE, GO MAKE Trilogy. MAKE and the other titles are available from our Trexo website or Amazon.
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