We get a lot of bad news in our feed every day. Everyone needs a dose of good news. That’s why the time is always ripe to share about the good news of the kingdom and we need more people to preach the gospel to others. This means we need to teach others how to make disciples of Jesus Christ. In this continuation to our Back to Basics series, we give tips on sharing about discipleship.
Whenever one of the girls I’m leading tells me they want to preach the gospel to their friends and help them follow Jesus Christ as well, it’s music to my ears. The reality is, a lot of people suffer in brokenness and hopelessness. But what is also true is that there is good news of hope, healing, and eternal life available for us. These two truths awaken the desire in our hearts to tell the good news to as many people as possible.
However, some people find it hard to start. How do you get to the point where you can preach the gospel and share your personal testimony? Others find it hard to move forward from preaching the gospel to helping others walk with Christ daily. How can we make disciples effectively?
A large part of teaching someone how to disciple others is to exemplify it in how we help them in their own faith journey. Here are three areas that you can check as you model how to make disciples to those you lead.
It’s good to be prepared to share our personal testimony and to know how to preach the gospel to others. However, we need to remember that in order for us to be heard, we need to be ready to listen. Our goal is not to simply share what we want to share. We want the soil for the seed of the gospel to be prepared for the sowing. We need to pray for soft hearts to receive the good news. And this can only be achieved when we know how to listen—first, to God and second, to the stories of the people we are reaching.
We are able to listen to God when we know His voice. We become sharper in knowing His voice over the noise, when we intentionally spend time with Him and meditate on His word. There are no shortcuts. When we know Him, we learn to recognize His promptings when we are talking to someone. We know when the Holy Spirit is urging us to share the gospel and our testimony.
Listening well to others will not just let other people know we care about them. It allows us to see areas of brokenness in their lives as well. Because the ultimate solution to any brokenness is the gospel, we need to be able to share how it is the answer to their hopelessness and lack. This means we dive deeper into the gospel itself. A good book to read is Evangelism Outside the Box by Rick Richardson and The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges. Being a student of the gospel is a continuous process. We have our entire lifetimes to study it and share its goodness to others who are willing to listen.
Helping someone follow Christ is not just about finishing a book, a manual, or a class together. It’s not just a once-a-week or twice-a-month meetup. Discipleship is about sharing life together. This means we need to become intentional in spending time with them, sharing our highs and lows, celebrating milestones, and praying earnestly together and for each other. This means we talk about how Christ wants us to build different areas of our lives—our studies or career, our relationships, our finances. This means we can do even mundane things together—doing groceries, changing tires, cooking.
One of my highlights in the midst of this pandemic is witnessing how God works in and through one of the girls I’m leading. Despite getting sick with COVID, it was an opportunity for us to pray together for her family, for front liners, and for the nation. Praying together refreshed her so much and inspired her to invite her entire family to a prayer meeting via Zoom. Her mom got so encouraged with her faith that she asked to be connected to a small group and seek help to follow God. But she’s not the only one sharing her prayer requests with me. I’ve shared to her things I’ve been praying for earnestly so that we can believe in faith together.
Sharing life also means I can speak the truth in love to those I lead. I can be confident in correcting and rebuking someone, knowing that they know the correction comes from a right heart and spoken in humility and love. I can also receive corrections from them too and ask for forgiveness knowing that our relationship is more important than my pride and that we are committed to push each other towards God.
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:35 (NLT)
Once you get to build a good relationship with someone and you’ve shared lives for quite a while, you get to be authentic and vulnerable with each other, which makes it easier to be accountable to one another. It’s great to know that you have friendships where you can thrive and live purposefully and yet also make a mistake, ask for forgiveness, and receive it.
We need to remember though that an authentic discipleship relationship is not our goal. Together, we’re called to be messengers of the gospel. We’re called to embody, demonstrate, and preach the gospel to those who don’t know the good news yet. We’re called to include the lonely and the outcast in a loving community where they can discover the beautiful design and purpose God has for them. We’re called to inspire others to a life of humility and faith, sacrifice and generosity, that lead to open doors for the gospel to be preached.
How beautiful it is for others to experience a safe place among people secure in their identity and calling in God! This is our mark as disciples of Christ: Love–not just for God, not just for each other, but also for those who have yet to know Christ.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?”
Matthew 5:44–47 (CSB)
All these underscore the truth that discipleship is relationship. Even though that is straightforward and simple, the reality of building relationships with others is quite challenging. Your character will be tested, yet it will also be refined. You will experience disappointment and frustration, yet it will also grow your humility and dependence on God. Your self-esteem will be challenged, yet it also gives room for your confidence in God to grow. Best of all, nothing else can teach us the unconditional love and long-suffering of God more than witnessing lives being radically transformed with the gospel.
Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let His mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet He gave no thought to seizing equality with God as His supreme prize. Instead He emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human!
Philippians 2:3–7 (TPT)
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