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.
- 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?