How Did Jesus Make Disciples?
Jesus taught and trained His disciples through association before giving them the Great Commission. If there had been a better way to accomplish His spiritual mission, He would have used it. His strategy was to reproduce His divine life, values, and resources in the lives of the disciples, so when He returned to the Father, these 11 men could carry on as the future leaders of His church and alter the course of history.
Being with Jesus was their primary means of learning how to minister. Mark tells us, “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14) They were trained, mentored, and apprenticed in real life situations. They saw and experienced evangelism, counseling, preaching, teaching, and every other form of ministry firsthand.
Even the “hard-hearted” religious leaders noticed that these men were different because they had been with Jesus. “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Jesus’ pattern was “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) He showed them how to minister. By contrast, as church leaders we typically tell people why they ought to minister, but fail to show them how. Great preaching and teaching are absolutely essential, but they cannot replace the mentoring, apprenticeship example demonstrated by Christ.
Many pastors never find time to train their lay leaders in the work of ministry. This omission leaves the pastor and his staff members without a strong base of qualified members to labor together with them in the ministries of the local church. Are we too busy to follow Jesus’ example. We need to come to grips with the fact that the Lord revealed His personal pattern of ministry by investing His maximum time in the lives of those who would bear the maximum responsibility in the future ministry of the church.
Our lack of training through apprenticeship and mentorship leaves vast numbers of church members unfulfilled because their spiritual gifts are never developed and remain unused. They want to grow in Christ, but are not shown spiritual growth skills. They want to reach people for Christ, but are never shown evangelistic strategies to bring their neighbors to the Lord. Soon, they settle into churchmanship rather than discipleship.