Church: Evangelism: Make Disciples

Our key question today: What is a disciple and how do we make disciples?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Disciple-making is the tactical life-blood of the local church.

NOTE: Disciple-making is our preferred language for the entire process of making contact, preaching the good news, hearing, responding, teaching, to multiplying. AND all of this can happen quite fast. See the woman at the well in John 4. 

Evangelism is the preaching/sharing/telling of the good news in the process of disciple-making. 

So, let’s refer to the whole process as disciple making. 

Because Jesus gave us the GC, the word “disciple” is found in the Bible 267 times exclusively in the gospels and Acts.

The lone exception to that is Isaiah 8:16 where the equivalent Hebrew word can be translated as “learned” or “taught”. 

Being a disciple was not unique in Jesus’ day. 

  • The Pharisees had disciples (Mark 2:8; Luke 5:33).
  • John the Baptist had disciples (Matthew 9:14).
  • Even the Devil has children (who are disciples) (John 8:44)
    • You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44
    • The discipleship relationship is very much spiritual father/son – mother/daughter. (see 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2)

The question is never, “are people disciples?”. The question is, “who or what are people disciples of?”.

What is a disciple?

Disciple: “Someone who follows another person or another way of life and who submits himself/herself to the discipline (teaching) of that leader or way.” (Paul Helm, “Disciple,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 629.)

A disciple is a student of a master teacher. 

What does this look like?

In the case of Jesus’ command to “make disciples” and the example he gave us in his living on how to do it, we understand:

  • Jesus, the living God, is the teacher who invites people to be his students/friends/brothers-sisters in a living relationship with God through his atoning work in the place of his disciples. 
    • Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:29-30
  • The disciple of Jesus learns for the rest of their lives from him (most healthily through a person who introductes them to Jesus) how to be a citizen of his kingdom as they hear his word, obey his word, worship, and join him on his mission to disciple the nations. 
    • And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” – Mark 1:17
  • Disciples of Jesus “fish for men/women” and teach them how to follow Jesus the way they follow Jesus so that they both follow Jesus in covenant fellowship together . 
    • And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, – Mark 9:2
    • After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. – Luke 10:1

How do we make disciples like this?



  1. We have to believe the action of disciple making is a command to be obeyed with real people coming to know God and witnessing the kingdom of God advance. Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Joel Rainey in a conversation about disciple making: 

HIM:  “Where in Scripture do we find examples of people finding a relationship with God through general revelation–by just looking at nature and sensing right and wrong but not actually hearing about Jesus?” 

ME:  “We don’t.” 

HIM: “So how do we know its possible for people to go to heaven who have never heard about Jesus?” 

ME: “We can’t.” 

HIM: “So what assurance do people have of eternal life that have never heard of Jesus?” 

ME: “None.” 

HIM: “So for anyone to get to heaven, someone has to actually go to that person and share the message of Jesus?” 

ME: “Yep.” 

HIM: “I guess I never realized that evangelism was that important. “

  1. Tell the good news of Jesus kingdom. 
    1. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6
      1. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 (ESV) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
  2. Invite a new Christian to imitate you as you imitate Jesus inside covenant fellowship with a local church. 
    1. 1 Corinthians 11:1
      1. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
      2. Use UP/IN/OUT as the rhythm of life to teach others. 
  1. Invite an “established Christian” who may need to learn to follow Jesus into a relationship in which you teach them how to live the RL!
    1. Don’t assume repentance and faith. Start with the gospel. 
    2. Teach your people the RL.
    3. Teach your people to imitate your example of discipling some folks. 
      1. Jesus had 3 inside of 12 he invested heavily in. 
      2. Make 3 your goal. 
      3. Make your goal 4 generations of spiritual sons and daughters.
        1. 2 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 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
        2. Four generations builds multiplcaiton and sustainability. 
  2. Worship!

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