Making disciples can be more than an individual calling, if we consider an idea drawn from 2 Timothy 2:2. “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (ESV). Paul is not telling Timothy to make disciples of Christ; he is telling him to make disciple-makers, men who understand that Christian maturity means helping others mature as well.
How do you inspire fellow believers to take up the call to make disciples? Follow a reproducible pattern.
I know a pastor who knows the Bible very well and has a great heart for his church, but when it came to spending an hour with one to three guys—you know, do the discipleship thing—he wasn’t sure what to do. He had taken the group through a book or two and was thinking about starting a two-volume systematic theology when another ministry leader introduced him to a workbook set geared to making disciples. With those books, he had a pattern for launching his disciples into their own discipling relationships.
He could have continued in a freeform style, going from book to book as the men kept an interest or talking over thoughts from the Bible. He had the skills to wing it like that, but many believers don’t. If they catch the fire for making disciples, they won’t know how to go about it. By using a book or workbook that covers essential biblical principles in such a way as to teach the truth and provoke discussion, a pastor can disciple a man and encourage him to reproduce their pattern with another man. The question of how to make disciples has been preempted.
How do you make disciples? You repeat how you were discipled.
This is the path people naturally follow, but when that path is vague and relies heavily on the leader’s gifts, following can be hard. It’s much easier to use a pattern that is easily repeatable and easily adaptable.