How Do Discipleship Relationships Start?

How Do Discipleship Relationships Start?

Discipleship relationships start when we seize and seek opportunities. Sharing the gospel becomes “a way of life”. The gospel is the foundation of all our discipleship relationships. Thus, we need to be actively sharing the gospel and embracing opportunities.

Discipleship Relationships Start When We Seize Opportunities

  • Everything starts with prayer. Jesus went out into a mountain to pray all night to God the night before He chose twelve of His disciples to be apostles. Also, believers are commanded to pray for unbelievers because God is willing for them to be saved. So if we are wanting to start a discipleship relationship with another person we need to start with prayer. Question: Are you praying for believers and unbelievers and “watching” for opportunities of who you can establish a discipleship relationship with?
    Luke 6:12-16; 23:33-36; Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; Asking and Believing: Matthew 7:7-11
  • Seize current opportunities. Are you expecting God to answer your prayers? Next, you need to be looking for opportunities to seize. A discipleship relationship can start with a believer or an unbeliever—anyone who is willing to spend time you and learn from you. It often starts with those that you know—such as your family and friends. (Your family is your first disciples.) But you also need to be looking for people (inside and outside the church) who have similar interest as you or people who want to know more about the Bible. Question: Are you seizing current opportunities to start a discipleship relationship?
    • Believers: If a person is a believer then they already have an established gospel foundation. Thus, you need to find out where they are at in their spiritual walk and, if you are able to help them grow in their faith, invite them to spend time with you studying the bible and developing a spiritual friendship. If they are willing and accept your invitation, this is the beginning of a discipleship relationship. (Remember: you can only lead people to do what you have already been doing.) Question: What believers around you can you help grow and mature in their faith?
    • Unbelievers: If a person isn’t a believer then there is no established gospel foundation. Thus, you need to start with teaching them the gospel. You can invite them to spend time with you for the purpose of sharing the gospel with them and establishing a friendship. If they are willing and accept your invitation, this is the beginning of a discipleship relationship with the goal of leading them to become a genuine disciple through repentance and faith in Jesus alone as Lord and Saviour. Question: What unbelievers do you know that you can you share the gospel with?

Discipleship Relationships Start When We Seek Opportunities

  • Make new opportunities. What if you currently don’t know any believers or unbelievers that you can start a discipleship relationship with, what should you do? You need to start making opportunities—meaning you need to be actively involved in reaching new people—those who you don’t currently know—through evangelism. Thus, the ultimate catalyst to initiate new discipleship relationships is witnessing to unbelievers. Jesus trained His disciples to be fishers of men—people that make disciples of all nations—but this absolutely included preaching the gospel. Witnessing is part of the great commission process. We cannot make disciples without evangelism. All believers are given the Holy Spirit for this very purpose—to be Jesus’ witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth. Questions: Are you trying to initiate new discipleship relationships by witnessing to unbelievers—even those you don’t currently know?
    Mark 1:17; 16:15; Luke 19:10; (Examples of Jesus Evangelizing: Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 10:25-37; John 4:5-29)
  • Just like those who responded to Jesus, we need to remember: (1) Not everyone will believe and become genuine disciples. But we should still continuously and intentionally preach the gospel. (2) Some will believe the gospel and become genuine disciples. We should continue to teach them in all things concerning following Jesus. This is the beginning of a discipleship relationship with the gospel foundation established.
    Luke 4:14-30

Being Equipped With The Essentials Of Sharing The Gospel

  • Boldness: We boldly share the gospel knowing it is God who ultimately has to do the work of salvation in a person’s life. Each time you share the gospel you might get a scared, nervous or unsettling feeling but we don’t let this fear paralyze us from sharing the gospel. We need to pray for boldness and allow this boldness to overshadow our weakness as we trust in God to save sinners. We are His workers, but He gives the increase.
    Boldness: Proverbs 28:1; Acts 4:13, 29, 31; Salvation: Psalms 68:20; John 6:44; Romans 2:4; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 3:6-9
  • Step 1—The Starting Point: Sharing the gospel can be done in a group setting or one-on-one. The starting point to share the gospel with either is to discover their knowledge of God and start where they are. Then you can properly contextualize (not change) the gospel message so they have a better understanding. For example, in the book of Acts we find that when they were sharing the gospel with the Jews they started with the prophets and law but when they were speaking to the Gentiles they started from Creation.
    (1) Start at Creation: Romans 1:19-20; (Preaching to Jews: Acts 26:22; 28:23; Preaching to Gentiles: Acts 14:15; 17:24)
    • Conscious Anxiety: Each society has different anxieties that they are conscious about, such as: sin, death, and the afterlife. We should be probing and find out what these anxieties are and try to share the gospel from that vantage point. 
    • Intentional Questions: Where did we come from?—Talk about the origin of man and God’s creation in comparison to other views. Why do you exist?—Talk about the purpose of life and the reasons for living. What is right and wrong?—Talk about man’s inherit knowledge of morality and the standard of good. What happens after you die?—Talk about life after death and eternity. 
  • Step 2—The Law of God: The purpose of using the law to share the gospel is to show people: they are sinners; they have offended a holy God: they will be judged by God one day; and they will receive death and hell as the price for sin. (Ask questions of sin, death, justice, etc.)
    (2) The Knowledge of Sin: Romans 3:10-12, 23; (3) The Judgment of God: Romans 2:5-6; (4) The Price of Sin: Romans 5:12
  • Step 3—The Gospel of Jesus Christ: The good news always follows the bad news. Thus, we need to share the core message of the gospel which means to show people: the atoning death of Jesus Christ; the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; salvation is a free gift from God; the great exchange of righteousness; and that Jesus is the only way. (Ask questions of forgiveness, mercy, grace, etc.)
    (5) Jesus’ Gift: Romans 6:23; (6) Jesus’ Death: Romans 5:8; (7) Jesus’ Resurrection: Romans 4:25
  • Step 4—The Crisis Point: Finally, when a person is humbled by their sin and the cross, it is time for them to make a decision. See if the person is willing to give all for Jesus, and encourage them to count the cost. We need to show them: how to repent towards God and how to put their faith in Jesus. (Ask questions of decision, time, application, etc.)
    (8) Confess and Believe: Romans 10:9-10

Review Questions

  • Everything starts with what? Are you doing that?
  • What does it mean to seize opportunities?
  • What does it mean to make new opportunities?
  • What does it mean to have boldness in sharing the gospel?
  • What are four essential steps of sharing the gospel?

Who Are The Equippers Of Discipleship?

Pastors are the equippers of discipleship because they are God’s choice servants to lead the local church to fulfill its purpose. Their job is to equip believers to service for the edification of the church until the church is spiritually mature and built up in love.

Pastors Are The Equippers Of Discipleship In The Local Church

  • Who: Who does God choose to lead and set the example for others to follow? God has not only given different spiritual gifts to all believers but He has also given special-gifted men to lead the church. Today, the “pastors and teachers” are the gifted men God is using to lead local churches. We also refer to this as “the office of a pastor”—but this office of leadership includes both responsibilities and gifting of pastoring or shepherding and teaching. These pastors are to lead the church in submission to the leadership of Jesus who is the Great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. There may also be “multiple pastors” or “plurality of elders” within a church, but this man is the lead pastor who has the main responsibility for spiritually leading a specific local church. Thus, the pastor is God’s choice servant to lead the local church to fulfill its purpose. (Note: we use the word “pastor” to be the same as “elder,” “bishop,” and “overseer”.)
    Ephesians 4:11; (Jesus as Supreme: Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Peter 2:25; Pastor’s Obligation: Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Titus 1:5-9; Apostles and Prophets were foundational, but have ceased for today: Ephesians 2:20)
  • Why: Why does God use pastors to lead? The answer is threefold: (1) “For the perfecting of the saints”—this means the pastor is to equip all the believers under his care to fulfill the purpose they were ordained for; (2) “for the work of the ministry”—believers were ordained to walk in good works and to serve—every believer is a minister; (3) “for the edifying of the body of Christ”—as each believer fulfills their duty of service, it builds up the church. Thus, a pastor’s job is to equip believers to service for the edification of the church.
    Ephesians 2:10; 4:12

Pastors Are Primarily And Continually To Be Training Disciples

  • When: When is the pastor’s task completed? The pastor is to carry out his job “till we all come”: (1) “in the unity of the faith”—the believers under his care should harmoniously become one or unified in the gospel and the revealed will of God in the Scriptures because of his teaching and training in sound doctrine; (2) “of the knowledge of the Son of God”—to grow in the knowledge of Jesus and have deeper and more personal relationship with Him; (3) “unto a perfect man”—to spiritually mature in Christ; (4) “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”—this maturity should be measured by the how much we are like Jesus. God wants us to become like Jesus in every area of our lives. Thus, the pastor is to equip believers to serve for the edification of the church until the church is spiritually mature.
    Ephesians 4:13; (Psalm 133:1; Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:8-12; Colossians 1:9-10; 28-29; 2:2)
    • What: What does a spiritual mature person look like? A spiritually mature person is no longer a “child” spiritually—meaning they no longer do spiritually immature things. They are no longer easily deceived because they have a firm grasp on the Scriptures and the correct understanding and application of them. They won’t be spiritually tricked, taken advantage of, deceived by false teachers or their teachings. Thus, a spiritually mature person is able to brave “the waves and the wind” of false teaching without being overtaken by either, but instead firmly stands on the truth.
      Ephesians 4:14; (1 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1-3; Jude 3-4; Revelation 2:2)
    • How: How does the pastor lead? How does a spiritually mature person live? The answer for both questions is one word: love. The pastors speaks “the truth in love” so that everyone will grow up in every way into Jesus—which is the head, even Christ. Then the spiritually mature person takes the truth and applies it to start ministering in the body of Christ and when each part is working properly, it results in growing the body and builds itself up in love. Thus, a pastor leads through faithfully teaching the truth in love and the believers serve in love.
      Ephesians 4:15-16; (Ephesians 4:20-24; 5:1-2; Colossians 2:19; John 15:9-10)

Principles Concerning Pastors And Discipleship

  • Pastors are the spiritual coaches in the local church. Pastors equipping believers to service for the edification of the church, is like coaches training their basketball teams to win the championship. Thus, like a coach, a pastor doesn’t do all the serving and ministry within the local church, but he trains the church members to do it. The church members are not just the fans sitting in the stands watching the game being played, but they are the athletes playing the game while the coach is instructing them from the sidelines. When they aren’t playing the game, he is training them in practice—which often includes doing many hard things they don’t necessarily want to do, but must do to be able to be ready to play and win.
  • Pastors are the equippers of discipleship because God has called them to be the leaders of the local churches. The local churches’ mission is the great commission—to make disciples of all nations. The method to fulfill the great commission is discipleship—the life-on-life process where disciples spread the gospel to other people who become disciples and then they help them to become fully mature and serving believers of Jesus.
  • Pastors have more duties than just discipleship, but they use every other aspect of their pastoral duties to help train their disciples. Jesus had many ways that He served and taught people, but it seemed that in almost everything He did, He did it with the secondary purpose of training His disciples.
    Luke 8:49-9:6
  • Pastors are to train leaders of leaders. Not only does the pastor have the responsibility to be the example to the flock, but he has the responsibility to train others who can train others. Thus, like Jesus, He can’t spend large amounts of time with everyone, but with a few, who will then also minister to the larger group.
  • Pastors are more than just preachers and preaching is only a part of training disciples. Faithfully preaching the word of God is nonnegotiable to being a pastor, but discipleship is paramount for establishing spiritually healthy churches.
    Mark 1:38
  • Pastors train disciples through life-on-life training. They share with their disciples not only the gospel of God but also their souls. They are glad to spend and be spent for them.
    2 Corinthians 12:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Review Questions

  • Who does God choose to lead and set the example for others to follow?
  • Why does God use pastors to lead?
  • When is the pastor’s task completed?
  • How does the pastor lead?
  • What are some principles concerning pastors and discipleship?

Project China and North Korea ” Update”

In our last update about “Project China and North Korea,” we mentioned about purchasing about 248 SD cards that were loaded with Korean resources and would be taken into the country through a friend on the border. Since then we have the following update:

THE NORTH KOREAN INITIATIVE “UPDATE #2”: All the SD cards have arrived safely into North Korea! Pray! Get involved!

This is a small step to getting the gospel into a closed country. Our goal is to get trained men into the country, but until we can, we are doing what we can with what we have to send some light into the darkness. Will you help?

We would like to purchase more SD cards. The cost is around $3.50 per card (depending on the exchange rate). Everything else is already set in place in China to get the cards into North Korea. So here is an opportunity, if you are able and willing, to get involved in sending some gospel light into a spiritually dark region.

If you want to be involved in purchasing SD cards, you can send donations to the following: Vision Baptist Missions, PO Box 442, Alpharetta, GA 30009 with “The North Korean Initiative” written in the memo.

Thank you for always caring and giving.

What Is A Disciple-Making Disciple Like?

A disciple-making disciple is a person who: (1) has believed and called upon the name of the Lord to be saved; (2) is growing in their faith—meaning they are living for Jesus and have defining “disciple-required” characteristics that distinguish them from others who are followers of Jesus in name only; (3) and are actively striving to reproduce themselves by making disciples throughout their lifetime.

Disciple-Making Disciples Have A Firm, Active And Sanctifying Faith

  • A firm faith: Jesus asked His disciples, “But whom say ye that I am?” Every disciple needs to know that they personally have found the Messiah—the Christ, the Son of the living God. We need to know that Jesus is the one of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write. Thus, a personal relationship with Jesus is first and foremost.
    Matthew 16:13-16; John 1:41-51
  • An active faith: Jesus told His disciples, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me.” Every disciple should be engaging the world around them through speaking God’s word and ministering in God’s strength—that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus.
    Acts 1:8; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11
  • A sanctifying faith: Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” Every disciple is being sanctified as they press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus—to obtain the glory of their Lord—to be conformed to His image.
    John 17:17; Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:14

Disciple-Making Disciples Have Distinguishing Characteristics

  • A persistent commitment to the Bible: Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed”. Thus, true disciples are those who continue believing in Jesus and obeying all that Jesus has taught and said—as revealed to us in the Bible.
    John 8:31-32
  • A sacrificial love for one another: Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Jesus’ new commandment for His disciples was to love to the same degree that He had loved them. Being with Jesus they had experienced the very love of God in a new way and would eventually understand Jesus showed God’s love to the world when He sacrificially died on the cross for sinful mankind.
    Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:1, 34-35; 15:9-13; Romans 5:8
  • A healthy bearer of much fruit: Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” We cannot do anything on our own, but we are to abide in Jesus. He is the vine and we are the branches. This abiding allows us to glorify God by producing “much fruit” and showing ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples.
    John 15:1-8
  • An unrivaled devotion to Jesus: Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” The relationships with our family members are often the dearest relationships we have, but Jesus says that we need to “hate” those relationships—meaning to “love less” those relationships in comparison to Him. Another way to say it: we are to “love Jesus supremely.” He is even more important than our own lives. (Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t a command to “hate” people but it is a command to choose Jesus above all else, which can seem like “hate” in comparison.)
    Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26
  • An utmost determination to follow Jesus: Jesus said, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Jesus expects His disciples to be determined to daily denying their own wills (living for self), removing hurdles to following Him and bearing any ramifications for doing so and firmly embracing His will (living for God) even if it means paying a great price to do so. The cross represents an instrument of death—it means that we die to ourselves but we live unto God. It represents the extent that Jesus is calling us to deny ourselves so that we are free and able to follow and serve Him. We reject the life of “self-determination” and accept the life of “Jesus-determination”.
    Matthew 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27; Galatians 2:20
  • A complete forsaking of everything: Jesus said, “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” Jesus is talking about absolute surrender. His disciples are to be completely surrendered to His will without reservation, thus renouncing all rights, privileges, demands, possessions, appeasements or indulgences in the process. Everything in the life of a believer comes under the Lordship of Jesus—there are no negotiations just unconditional surrender. (Don’t misunderstand, this doesn’t mean that you have to sell all your possession immediately and aren’t allow to own anything, but this is putting every aspect of your life under the Lordship of Jesus to do as He pleases and the willingness to follow Him at any cost and in every respect.)
    Luke 5:11, 28; 12:33; 14:33; 18:22
  • A courageous desire to imitate Jesus: Jesus said, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” The objective of discipleship is for the disciple or student to become like his teacher. Each disciple that is fully trained (perfect) will be just like his teacher. So there should be a desire in every disciple to be like Jesus in every way—even if that means the way the world treated Him they will treat us. Thus, this is a courageous desire because it promises varying degrees of persecution for everyone who lives like Jesus.
    Matthew 10:24-25; Luke 6:40; John 15:20
  • A willingness to obey orders from Jesus: The Bible says, “The disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them.” Jesus effectively becomes the boss of our lives and we should be willing to be obedient and submissive to all His commands.
    Matthew 11:1; 21:1-2, 6; John 21:15-17

Disciple-Making Disciples Have Disciples Who Reproduce Disciples

  • A passion to make disciples of all nations: Jesus told His disciples to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” During their training, the disciples were bringing others to Jesus and even sent out to preach. At the end of their training, Jesus told them to go out and “teach”—make disciples—of all nations. They were to reproduce themselves—to train disciples who will train disciples. Thus, a disciple-making disciple must have disciples who train disciples.
    Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 5:27-32; 10:1; John 1:40-45; (2 Timothy 2:2)

Review Questions

  • Disciple-making disciples have what kind of faith?
  • What are the eight distinguishing characteristics of disciple-making disciples?
  • Disciple-making disciples must reproduce what?
  • Are you a disciple-making disciple? Why? 
  • Where are your disciples? Are they making disciples?

September 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends:

Furlough is going great. We are getting rest, being encouraged, growing, learning, and busy about the Lord’s work.  We can say with the Psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me: Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: My flesh also shall rest in hope.” (Psalm 16:8–9)

Prayer & Praise Requests: Please pray or rejoice with us over the following:

  • Our needed increase in support. We need about 30% more to reach our new target amount before we return next year, Lord willing. Praise the Lord for one new church that has already voted to partner with us and for the Lord providing our needs in a strong way.
  • As a part of the North Korean Initiative, we were able to purchase about 120 SD cards that were loaded by a friend with Korean Christian material and sent over the Chinese and North Korean bordered to be distributed among the North Koreans. Praise the Lord they made it into the country. Pray they will be used to plant seeds of the gospel in the hearts of the people and for souls to be saved.
  • Pray for safety and blessings as we travel to report about what God has done in China and raise up new laborers for the great harvest field of China and the world. In our travels, we have already come in contact with families and young people who are interested in getting involved in missions.
  • Pray as we reach out to the Chinese community we meet as we travel.

Upcoming Event: We will be participating and speaking at the Our Generation Summit in Mt. Sterling, Ohio this coming December 28-29, 2018. This conference is a gathering of Christians endeavoring to further the Gospel of Christ. This conference is open to individuals, couples, families, and church groups. If you are interested in missions, I hope that you will plan to attend. For more information contact us or visit: www.ogsummit.com.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known!

In His Joyful Service,

Mark

What Is A Discipleship Relationship Like?

A discipleship relationship is characterized by withness—meaning that training is accomplished as you “do life together”. This is also called life-on-life mentorship. This creates a unique bond between the “mentor” and the “mentee” as they both strive to serve the Lord all for His honor and glory. 

A Discipleship Relationship Is Characterized By “Withness”

  • Jesus ordained the twelve disciples “that they should be with Him”. Jesus knew that before they would be sent out to preach and have power to perform miracles that they needed to be with Him. This means that they needed to spend a lot of time together. This was a charge for them to constantly be in His presence so that they could learn from every aspect of His life and He could mold every aspect of their lives into representations of Himself. This was a transparent, intimate and bonding relationship that can only be established through spending good quality and a large quantity of time together. This was also more than just friends hanging out, Jesus was a man whom God was with (in fact, He was God Himself), and took every opportunity to teach them the truth.
    Mark 3:14; Luke 9:18-20; John 3:2
  • We need to realize that discipleship isn’t just sitting down and teaching our disciples lessons from the Bible for an hour each week, but it’s a relationship where we invite others into our lives so that we can train them like Jesus trained His disciples. Also, we can’t expect for people to follow us except God be with us and we desire to teach them God’s truth. Our discipleship relationships also need to be defined by withness—spending time together with our disciples training them for the kingdom of God.

A Discipleship Relationship Is Characterized By “Life-On-Life”

  • A discipleship relationship is like a spiritual “teacher and learner” relationship. A “disciple” is a person who is a learner or student that is devoted to learning from a specific teacher in an instructional relationship. But this is more than a “classroom relationship” where a professor teaches and the students listen and receives information, instead it is teacher who is imparting knowledge and practical skills to his student. The student is fully committed to learning from his teacher and organizes his life around his teacher so that he can spend the necessary time with him to accomplish this. Thus a student (disciple) ends up being like his teacher (master).
    Matthew 10:24-25; John 13:14-15
  • A discipleship relationship is like a spiritual “father and son” relationship. Paul referred to his disciples as spiritual sons or sons in the faith (“Timotheus, who is my beloved son,” “Titus, mine own son after the common faith,” “my son Onesimus”). Timothy was the greatest example of this and Paul said their relationship was like a son with his father, because He had served with Paul in the work of the gospel. Timothy did ministry like Paul did. This relationship signifies a permanent and lifelong commitment to invest in your disciples’ lives for their edification. We are to train our disciples in the same way that a father teaches and cares for his own sons.
    1 Corinthians 4:14-17; 16:10-11; Philippians 2:22; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1; Titus 1:4; Philemon 10
  • A discipleship relationship is like a spiritual “leader and follower” relationship. Jesus was the leader and those who wanted to be His disciples were to follow Him. On the part of the disciples, there wasn’t a full understanding of what the “pathway of following Jesus” was going to look like or what would be required (although Jesus did challenge them with many hard sayings), but they had confidence in the leader. A follower needs to have confidence that the leader is going to lead them well and they need to make the necessary sacrifices to be able to follow—not just following literally, but also to accept and follow their guidance and leadership.
    Matthew 4:19-22; 8:19-23; 9:9; 16:24; 19:21
  • A discipleship relationship is like a spiritual “master and apprentice” relationship. A “master” is someone who already has experience and skills in a certain area or trade and is teaching the less experienced and unskilled person everything they know about it. We have several examples in the Bible, but a few from the Old Testament are: (1) Elijah and Elisha; (2) Moses and Joshua; (3) Eli and Samuel.
    (1) 1 Kings 19:19-21; 2 Kings 2:1-25; (2) Exodus 24:13; Deuteronomy 31:1-8; (3) 1 Samuel 1:24-28; 3:1-23

Principles For Discipleship Relationships

  • Principles in being a disciple trainer:
    • Invite: You have to invite others into your life and give them permission to “follow” you, learn from you, and be trained by you. Like Jesus, we aren’t looking for those with the best education, those from great families, those with enormous wealth or the most religious person, but we are looking for those with humble hearts willing to learn and serve God. We aren’t looking for those without problems, but normal hard-working men and women who might make a lot of mistakes—but we aren’t focused on who they currently are as much as we are focused on what they can become through Jesus.
      John 1:43; 15:16; Acts 4:13; Heart: 1 Samuel 16:7; Double Vision: Acts 9:10-19; Judges 6:13-18
    • Instruct: As you are training those who accepted your invitation to learn from you, you want to give them instructions about how to grow and serve. You are not to do all the serving and work by yourself, but you are to instruct them how to do it and give them the opportunity to actually do it themselves, even if they can’t do it as good as you can. For who could do anything better than Jesus, but He allowed His disciples to serve. Instruct each person through encouragement at a pace they are able to endure.
      Serving: John 6:10; Luke 22:8; Growing: Matthew 10:5; 14:26-33; Pace: Genesis 33:13-14; John 16:12, 33; Mark 4:33
    • Inform: We are to teach our disciples God’s word, but also spend extra time making sure they understand everything that we are teaching and how to apply it to their lives.
      Mark 4:1, 34
  • Principles in being a disciple:
    • Follow: You have to be willing to “follow” someone who invites you into their life to learn from them. This means making sacrifices so that you can establish this discipleship relationship. Those who are training for full-time service will have to make greater sacrifices as this becomes their entire livelihood.
      Mark 1:19-20; 2:14; Luke 5:11; 18:28
    • Serve: Disciples serve wherever they are needed. They learn to obey what they are told to do by those who are training them and serve alongside them. They aren’t looking to just serve in the areas of prominence, but also in the small, insignificant and seemingly less important areas. They are also willing to bring their friends and family to church and tell them about Jesus.
      Serving: John 6:11; Luke 22:9-13
    • Learn: Disciples are learners. They are to be constantly asking questions to the person who is training them so that they are learning new things and understanding everything that is being taught. They are to be interested, inquisitive, and imitative.
      Matthew 13:10, 36; Mark 4:10; Luke 11:1; 24:35

Review Questions

  • What does “withness” mean?
  • What does “life-on-life” mean?
  • A discipleship relationship is like what four types of relationships?
  • What are three principles in being a disciple trainer?
  • What are three principles in being a disciple?

Project China and North Korea

Project China is working to do what we can to reach into North Korea.

Here is a recent update:

THE NORTH KOREAN INITIATIVE “UPDATE”: Phase 1—Until the Lord gives us a man to work on the border, we have partnered with a new friend to get the KOREAN AUDIO SCRIPTURES (New Testament and Proverbs) and other resources (preaching, teaching and singing recordings and a gospel video) into the country to be distributed.

We were able to purchase about 248 SD cards that have been loaded with the Korean resources and will be taken into the country soon.

North Koreans often have handheld radios or other digital devices that have SD card slots and the goal is for them to receive these and listen to or watch these resources. (Printed material is more dangerous for a North Korean person to possess—thus digital versus print is better in this scenario.) This is a small part in trying to plant the seed of the gospel in North Korea.

Please pray as they will be faithfully distributed and listened too or watched by the North Korea people who have yet to hear a clear presentation of the gospel!

You can read more about the initiative here:

The North Korean Initiative

 

What Is The Leadership Potential Of Discipleship?

The purpose of discipleship is to be consistently producing maturing and sanctifying disciples of Jesus, but the potential of discipleship is producing the next generation of church leaders. It starts by taking the large group and funneling them into smaller groups to train disciples at differing levels. Believers take each disciple as far as they can and as far as they want to go. Then they pass them off to someone who can take them farther than they are able to, especially those who desire full-time ministry. Those who surrender to full-time ministry are then trained by those who are already in full-time ministry—thus it becomes their priority ministry to train leaders who reproduce themselves, eventually working towards training leaders of leaders.
Purpose: Colossians 1:28; Potential: 2 Timothy 2:2

Understanding Discipleship Groupings

  • Jesus’ ministry had different groups of people that He interacted with and He spent different amounts of time with each group. First, “The Crowds”—these were large groups of people He was preaching the gospel to or those who would come to hear His teachings. Second, “The Church”—this was the larger group of disciples that Jesus was working with and that were gathered together after His resurrection. Third, “The twelve”—this represents those Jesus was working with more closely and were training for full-time ministry. Fourth, “The Three”—these were three of the disciples from the group of the twelve that Jesus worked with more closely. Fifth, “The Beloved”—this was probably the disciple that was closest to Jesus. This helps us understand how different groupings are beneficial in making disciples. We learn the following two aspects:
    (1) Mark 2:1-6; 2:13; (2) Luke 10:1; Acts 1:13-15; 2:42-47; (3) Matthew 10:1-6; Luke 6:13; (4) Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 5:37; 14:33; Luke 8:51; (5) John 13:23; 19:26; 21:7
    • Discipleship Groupings: As we are training disciples, we are going to divide them into different groups and spend time with each group differently. This also allows us to offer different kinds of training to different groups. There are large evangelistic outreaches, the gathering of believers at the church, small groups of people we are working more intimately with and also one-on-one relationships. It seems with Jesus, the larger group got less time and the smaller group get more time.
    • The Leadership Funnel: As we are training disciples, those in full-time ministry (like Jesus) need to focus on developing leaders. At the wide end of the funnel there is a large group who are challenged to follow Jesus. A smaller portion of people respond to the invitation and move down the funnel. They are being trained and growing in the Lord. They are challenge to go to the next level of ministry and leadership. An even smaller amount responds to that invitation, and eventually there is a small group of leaders who are being trained for ministry. Eventually, this small group of leaders will work their own funnels as they start discipling others and training leaders themselves.
  • The principle is that we take the large group and funnel them into smaller groups to train our disciples at differing levels.

Advancing Within Discipleship Growth

  • Every disciple should be “receiving training” but also “training others”. As we learn the basics of the gospel and the basics of living the victorious Christian life, we need to be teaching someone else those truths and training them how to live it out. But the basics are just the beginning and not the end. As we train disciples, we should be willing that each person be taken to the next level in the Christian life. Thus, this means that we should be willing to pass those we are discipling on to a more spiritually mature person who can help take them further in their spiritual walk or take them to the next level of serving God. For example, you might be able to train someone to be a faithful church member, but you don’t know how to train them to be a teacher or to be a pastor, so you need to pass them on to someone who can. Timothy is an example of this discipleship advancement. He was taught the Holy Scriptures and how to have an unfeigned faith by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. But later he was trained by Paul for the work of the ministry.
    Acts 16:1-5; 1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:19; 1 Timothy 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:1-5; 3:15
  • The principle is that we take each disciple as far as we can and then pass them off to someone who can take them farther than we are able to.

Prioritizing The Leadership Potential Of Discipleship

  • As we are busy making disciples, we need to keep in mind that God might use those we are training (including our children) to accomplish great things for His Name’s sake. We should dream big dreams for everyone we train. We should pray that, if God wills, He will use our disciples in full-time ministry. Obviously, not everyone will be in full-time ministry, but some will, so we need to expand the range of our vision so that we are working to train everyone to their “full individual potential”—everyone produces varying amounts of fruit (some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty) and has different talents (every man according to his several ability)—so that by the grace of God, His grace that is bestowed upon us will not be in vain.
    Matthew 13:23; 25:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:10
  • Full-time Ministry: All believers should be involved in training disciples, but pastors, missionaries, and those in full-time ministry have a priority ministry to be constantly looking for “faithful men” who will be able to teach others also. Men who desire to be in the ministry. These are men that they can entrust with the responsibility of full-time ministry. Like Jesus who trained His disciples to lead the church in carrying forth the great commission, so they are constantly looking for disciples who they can train for full-time service. They funnel the large group into small groups of men who desire to be in full-time ministry and spend the majority of their time training them—the next generation of ministry leaders. This is their priority ministry, just like it was for Jesus and the twelve disciples.
    Mark 3:14; Galatians 2:7; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:20; 3:1-7; Titus 1:3-5
  • The principle is that we take each disciple as far as they want to go and take those who are desirous and willing onto full-time ministry.

Training Leaders Of Leaders

  • As those in ministry are training “ministry leadership” we must remember that we are to produce copies of ourselves (as we follow Christ) by investing our lives into them. Our training should set in motion a movement of leaders who train other leaders, who train other leaders, who train other leaders in a never ending cycle of discipleship that fulfills its purpose and lives up to its potential. For Example: From Paul to Timothy to faithful men to others and so on.
    1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Timothy 2:2
  • The principle is that we train leaders to train other leaders and their disciples do the same.

Review Questions

  • What is discipleship groupings? What is the principle?
  • What is advancing in discipleship growth? What is the principle?
  • How do we prioritize the leadership potential of discipleship? What is the principle?
  • What does it mean to train leaders of leaders? What is the principle?
  • What is the priority ministry of pastors and missionaries? Who are you training?

August 2018 Prayer Letter

Dear Pastors, Partners & Praying Friends:

We want to praise the Lord for safe traveling over the past month. We have arrived safely in America. Also, we want to praise the Lord for all the wonderful things God has done over the past eight years of ministry in China. We are blessed to be a small part of all that God is doing in China.

Furlough 2018-2019: We left China on July 24th, took an intermission in South Korea for almost a week and then finally arrive back in the States on the 30th. After arriving, we were able to get set up, which went really quickly because of the help of our home church and yokefellows. The following two weeks we stayed local and visited with our home church, family and now we are starting to travel and report on all that God has done in China. Also, we are seeking to increase our support—thus we need about 30% more to reach our new target amount. We have already been in two new churches and excited to be in many more. If you are interested in having us in to present our ministry in your church, please contact me via email: mark@chinaministry.org.

Blessings:

  • The ministry in China is doing well and there has been two more souls saved since we have left. They have also had great attendances in their Sunday morning services.
  • It has been wonderful to spend time with the other Project China missionaries out of our home church that are also in the States. God is building a wonderful team of missionaries.
  • We have been reconnected with friends and family. Also, we are making new friends and meeting new family members!
  • A new ministry partnered with us to provide audio Bible devices in the Chinese language. These devices also have sermons and we can add our own content.
  • We have been able to get involved in teaching at our home church, participate in different events and receive more training through our mission board and the training center.
  • I was able to meet a Chinese man who was participating in an ESL class at our home church and started studying the Bible with him in Chinese. Please pray for his salvation.

The North Korean Initiative: This is a unique opportunity to reach North Korea with the gospel from China through utilizing “men, materials, and technology”. Please pray as we plan!

  • Men: To plant churches along the border with the intention to reach and train ethnic Korean Chinese citizens to go into North Korea as evangelists and church planters. 
  • Material: To produce and translate material (written, audio, and video) into the Korean language. 
  • Technology: Use technology in creative ways to smuggle the Gospel material into North Korea.

Thank you! We know that we couldn’t do anything without the help of God’s people. Thank you for giving, praying and being a part of our “China Ministry” team. We are especially fond of you! Let us continue pressing forward so that we can know Jesus and make Him known! 

In His Joyful Service,

Mark