Based on “The Discipler’s Toolkit” by George M. Mutuku and Mark A. Olander

What does it mean to make disciples?

We know that Jesus has called all Christians to make disciples in the Great Commission. But what exactly is Jesus talking about? After all, “disciple” isn’t a word that the world uses very much. How do we learn to obey Jesus’s command if we don’t know how?

In their recent book “The Discipler’s Toolkit,” experienced ministers George M. Mutuku and Mark A. Olander take us on a step-by-step journey through this process. The authors explain that disciple making is “the process of helping other Christians grow toward spiritual maturity. One might even think of it as spiritual reproduction.”

To learn how to make faithful disciples, let’s take a discipleship lesson from the master himself: Jesus. Mutuku and Olander point out that “Christ gave three dimensions to disciple making. These were the things he wanted his disciples to know, to have, and to do.”

Jesus wanted his disciples to know who he is—the Son of God, who has come to take away the sins of the world. He wanted them to understand how to be saved from their sin, and how to live lives that honour God.

Jesus wanted his disciples to have qualities that distinguish them from the rest of the world. They are marked by a love for God that surpasses all other loves (Luke 14:25-27). They love others like they love themselves (John 13:34-35). They are ready to give up everything to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-24). They are like a rich vine, producing much good fruit (John 15:1-8).

Finally, Jesus wanted his disciples to do his work in the world. According to Mutuku and Olander, this includes “the ability to preach the gospel and share the Good News of salvation with non-believers, to make disciples of new believers, to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of others, and to effectively teach his Word to other believers.”

But how did Jesus make his dreams a reality? How did he transform a ragtag group of twelve Israelites into effective ministers?

The disciples were hardly ideal material. They were uneducated, argumentative, arrogant, and foolish. But in the kingdom of God, where we start out doesn’t matter. God is willing to make disciples of anyone who follows him, regardless of their background. Jesus met them where they were, giving us a helpful guide for our disciple-making today.

He began with prayer, talking with God for an entire night before he selected the twelve. Jesus prayed with and for them. He spent time with them. He ate meals with them. When his disciples had a question, he answered it (no matter how ridiculous or wrong-headed). He taught by example, living out his instructions. He took advantage of convenient moments to teach a helpful lesson. He rebuked and corrected the disciples when it became necessary.

Finally, Jesus involved the disciples in his ministry, letting them observe his teaching and miracles firsthand. Eventually, Jesus sent them out on a short-term mission trip throughout Israel, giving them practice before their Great Commission.

Jesus’s ministry bore much fruit. While one of the twelve disciples would betray Jesus, ten of the remaining eleven disciples would eventually die a martyr’s death for the sake of the gospel.

Jesus is the ultimate disciple-maker. Without him, we cannot effectively foster the spiritual growth of even a single person. This is why the Great Commission comes with a promise: “be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, NLT). With God’s help, we can do amazing things—even more amazing than turning twelve wayward men into the foundation of the Church.

As we seek to build upon this foundation with our own disciple-making efforts, we would be wise to borrow equipment from Mutuku and Olander’s discipler’s toolkit. But most importantly, we should sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn from the methods of the master builder himself.

Only as we become his disciple will we be able to disciple others.

Get your copy of  The Discipler’s Toolkit on Amazon or from Oasis International Distribution partners in Africa.

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