What’s Your Disciple Making Plan for 2014?

Making Disciples Is Hard

Making disciples is the call of every believer in Jesus Christ. Yet, I dare say for most of us, it has been permitted to accept a version of Christianity both personally and corporately where disciple making is virtually non-existent. Disciple making Christians should not be considered the “hard core” version of Christians or the “elite forces” of the church militant. The fact that such attributions exist reveal how non-normative disciple-making has become.

For many of us, it could be that we are simply not well taught or well trained in the words and ways of Jesus. No doubt, that is an issue. But for all of us, disciple-making is just plain hard. It’s hard because we have years of non-disciple making habits in us like inertia that need to be moved by Christ’s call of living on mission. It’s hard because we have rarely seen it modeled well before us and therefore disciple making is turned into a program or function rather than a way of life. It’s hard because we have to evaluate our lives in light of the mission and make disciple making a priority, and that can be a very painful and challenging process.

That is why I believe you and I need to have a disciple-making plan for our lives. Yes we need to pray. Yes we need to study and learn. But we also need a personal plan and process that we embrace in order to orient our lives around making, maturing, mobilizing, and multiplying disciples of Jesus Christ. It simply cannot be tangential or accidental or on the periphery of your life. It cannot be relegated to a small compartment of your life or canned program. To make disciples, you need to be “all in.”

Putting Together a Plan

Before we can begin to put together a plan, there are questions we must set before us throughout the process, questions like:

  • What needs to change in my daily/weekly priorities?
  • What needs to change in my thinking/perspective?
  • What needs to change in my lifestyle/rhythms of life?
  • What do I need to say no to in order to say yes to making disciples?

In putting together a plan, the easiest way to begin is by asking and answering the who-what-when-where–so what questions…

>> WHO – who are the people you are personally going to invest your life in? How many relationships do you have in your life that have disciple making built into them? How many non-Christians do you know and are building a relationship with?

>> WHAT – what will be your objectives or goals? What are you seeking to impart to others? What will it take to see someone develop into a disciple-making disciple?

>> WHEN – when will you find time to make disciples? What kind of margin to you have in your time management efforts? When will you schedule time to meet regularly with the people you are investing in?

>> WHERE – where will you make disciples? In your neighborhood (first place)? In your school or workplace (second place)? In the rhythms of community life and culture centers (third places)?

>> HOW – how are you going to work this out on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? What is your strategy for making disciples? Maturing disciples? How are you being trained to do this? How are you going to train others through your life, example, influence, and instruction?

>> SO WHAT – so what if I don’t make disciples? What kind of accountability and encouragement do I have in this process? What kind of measurements of progress and growth? What kind of accessibility do others have to my life to help me keep my motivations and attitudes Christ-centered and kingdom-focused?

These are the kinds of questions we must be asking ourselves if we are going to take serious the call to disciple making. If you are thinking about putting a plan together, please do let me know. I’m working on mine now and hope to share it soon. As I’ve said earlier, it is tempting to shoot for targets that are much easier to hit, but it does not matter if the targets are nowhere near the heart of God. Making disciples has great kingdom consequence! Let’s stumble forward together in the hard, messy, and glorious work of making disciples of Jesus!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Timmy Brister

In the “real world,” I am the founder and president of Gospel Systems, Inc, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on creating and sustaining delivery systems for the advancement of the gospel around the world. In 2010, I started a delivery system called PLNTD – a network for church planting and revitalization focusing on resourcing, relational community, residencies in local churches, and regional networks. In 2012, I started an international delivery system call The Haiti Collective which focuses on equipping indigenous churches through church partnerships in order to care for orphans, make disciples, train leaders, and plant churches in Haiti. In addition to serving as the executive director of these organizations, I have served for 12 years in pastoral ministry with churches in Alabama, Kentucky, and Florida. My passion is to see healthy, growing churches take ownership of the Great Commission to the end that disciples are making disciples, leaders are developed and deployed, and churches are planting churches here and around the world. This is the driving passion of my life and prayer that God would be so glorified in making His name great in our generation.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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