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How to Do One-to-One Discipleship

I love disciple-making and get excited whenever those around me express interest in learning how to better be disciples that make disciples. I tend to bring a few suppositions to the table, but I’ll do my best to share them upfront. Here they are:

1. Jesus was a disciple-maker who spent time with a crowd (a large group), his disciples (a small group), and then gave special attention to three (James, John, and Peter).
2. Jesus told us to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20).
3. When making disciples, we should be training for three disciple-making generations (i.e., casting vision for who the person we’re discipling will invest in and how the person we’re investing in will train their disciple to invest in others (2 Tim. 2:2)).
4. What you win them with, you win them too (i.e., if you train disciple-makers to use the Bible as their primary tool of disciple-making, chances are that all the disciples that follow will also use the Bible as their primary tool of disciple-making).
5. The Word of God does the work of God.

Now that I’ve laid out some of my disciple-making suppositions, lets get more practical. I’ve been taught that to do effective disciple-making, you need a time, place, and plan. I’m not going to hold your hand on where and when. I trust you can figure that out. But, allow me to share a few thoughts about a plan. Here’s a few simple suggestions that I hope you can use immediately.

Who: Begin praying for the Lord to provide someone you could begin investing your life into (through a one-to-one disciple-making relationship). Ask those who are discipling you for suggestions (in the event that no one is discipling you, consider finding someone immediately). Consider those who are humble, reliable, and willing to learn. Don’t limit the invitation to those who already profess faith in Christ, consider asking anyone interested in studying the Bible.

What: The Bible should be your primary disciple-making tool. All of us, myself included, would benefit from more time in God’s Word. Therefore, spend time in your disciple-making appointment with the Scriptures. Consider taking a passage of Scripture and asking questions of the passage. The questions you ask depend on the genre of Scripture you decide to study. For help, I highly recommend David Helm’s book One-to-One Bible Reading. Since we’re preaching through the book of Mark, I would suggest dividing Mark into the sections that we’re preaching and then asking questions from those sections specifically. Mathias Media provides the questions from Helm’s book as a free resource you can download. 

For Example: If you were meeting with someone this week, you could listen to the sermon I preached from Mark 2:1-12, and then sit down with your friend and ask the following questions:

â–ª What do you think is the most surprising thing Jesus does in this encounter?
â–ª If someone in a crowd of people said to you, “Your sins are forgiven,” what would you and everyone else think of that person?
â–ª How does Jesus demonstrate his claim to be able to forgive sins?
â–ª What difference do you think his authority should have in your own life?

Fail Forward: Whether you’re confident or not, I encourage you to begin investing in other people’s lives. Pray for those you’re pouring your life into and lean upon the sufficiency of God’s Word. Please don’t be afraid to fail forward and remember that God enables those he calls. I’m praying for you.