Matthew records at the end of his Gospel the commission Jesus gave to his followers – Go and make disciples. The Great Commission is the universal calling for all believers. God sent Jesus to teach us all God wanted us to know and then Jesus commissions the subsequent generations of followers to imitate his example.
The Bible tells us Jesus was the very Word of God. He taught us not only in word, but he modeled in deed what we are to do. Just as he selected and trained a band of disciples, we are called to do the same.
From the gospel record of the life of Christ we can observe disciple-making in action. We have only to follow his example. What do we learn?
- Jesus was alert and observant. He looked for signs of people whose hearts were prepared and stirred by God. He told his disciples to look for the “person of peace” and then to spend time with him. The disciples shared what God had done for them and that he would do the same for the person of peace.
- He observed and listened before he spoke. When he spoke he told stories of events common in their lives that also showed them the truth about life. He revealed the reality of the Kingdom of God to them
- He waited for the teachable moments, rather than pressing people before they were ready to receive instruction.
- He gave his disciples challenges to practice what they had learned and pushed them beyond their comfort zone. As they developed he gave them harder challenges.
- He began with the end in mind. He told them what results they were looking for, then he sent them out. He did not micro-manage them. He allowed for discovery. He allowed for failure as part of the learning process. But he never forsook them.
- He recognized the image of God and the unique giftedness of each person. Jesus worked with each one based on their individual characteristics. He did not have a single lesson plan they all went through.
- They shared life together. 24/7/365.
Sometimes our challenge in making disciples stems from focusing so much on what Jesus said that we miss what he did. Jesus focused on relationships and action. Yes, he did teach them with words at times. But most of the discipling took the form of living life together.
The number one job of tentmakers is to make disciples as Jesus did. Through relationships and action we gently lead them to a relationship with our friend Jesus. They learn to live as he taught us through sharing life together.