Jesus’ last words to His disciples was a command to “go.”
Right before He left earth, Jesus gathered the 11 men on a mountain to give them this charge: “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.”
As a Christ-follower, that charge also applies to you. Not only are Christians called to be disciples, they are also called to go and make disciples.
A disciple is simply a follower or student. “To be a faithful disciple is to commit to knowing and being guided by God’s truth,” Billy Graham explained.
To discover how to make and empower disciples, let’s look at Jesus, the greatest disciple maker.
Before you do anything else, discipleship starts with prayer. Get on your knees and intercede for those around you who don’t know Jesus. Don’t be afraid to pray bold, specific prayers in confidence that God does hear them.
“Prayer is crucial in evangelism,” Billy Graham once said. “No matter how logical our arguments or how fervent our appeals, our words will accomplish nothing unless God’s Spirit prepares the way.”
2. Find and Invite
When Jesus called His disciples, He found individuals who were willing to leave everything behind and follow Him. Peter and Andrew were out fishing when Jesus said, “Follow me.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. James and John did the same.
Look for people who are willing and ready to learn and dive deep into a relationship with God. That doesn’t just mean individuals who already know Jesus.
Ask God to lead you to people whose hearts are seeking and open to hearing about Jesus. Are there people in your circles who don’t know Jesus? Which ones are willing to connect and ready to learn?
3. Graft Them Into Your life
Discipleship is more than just a check-in at a coffee shop once a week. It’s letting your disciples be a part of your life and ministry.
Jesus’ disciples got a front-row seat to His miracles. They witnessed Him heal and cast out demons. They saw Him bring sight to the blind. They were the ones who handed out basket after basket of food to 5,000 people after starting with five loaves and two fish.
The disciples did life with Jesus. Are you willing to graft those you’re discipling into your life?
4. Rebuke. Encourage. Empower.
Jesus often called out the disciples on their lack of faith, but He didn’t do it without simultaneously encouraging them.
Once a man came up to Jesus, asking Him to heal his son who had a demon. The man had brought his son to the disciples, and even though they tried to heal him, they failed. Jesus rebuked the demon and instantly healed the boy.
Later, the disciples came up to Jesus asking, “Why could we not cast it out?”
Jesus responded: “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard see, you will say to this mountain ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
Do you see what Jesus did there? He confronted their lack of faith—but in the same sentence He empowered them, declaring nothing will be impossible for them.
As you walk beside and minister to those you are discipling, correct and point out the areas in their life and faith where they can grow. But don’t neglect to empower them with the truth of who God is.
For, like Paul declared, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
5. Send Them to Make Disciples
The last and key step of discipleship is sending. Send them out into the world to make disciples that will make disciples until every nation and tribe on earth has heard the Good News.
This was Jesus’ final act before ascending back to heaven. After living with and investing in His disciples for three years, He finished his work on earth, gathered them together and gave them that final command:
“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 28:18-20
So where do you start? Pray and step out of your comfort zone to build relationships that will usher in the kingdom of God.
After all, that is our purpose as Christians.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 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 Timothy 2:1-2