Every pastor knows the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples.” Yet, many pastors are vague on the definition of disciple. Let’s be honest: it is going to be really hard to make something if you do not know what it is, right?

Charles Spurgeon once said, “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews.” If the definition of disciple is not crystal clear to you, rest assured your congregation have no clue what it is that Jesus has called them to make. Here is a definition that our team uses for you to unpack as you work towards faithfulness and obedience in the Great Commission.

A disciple is an apprentice of Jesus who will be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did.

  1. Apprentice of Jesus:
    While a student focuses on learning theories and obtaining information to use after graduation, an apprentice applies newly learned skills every day in their vocational setting. Disciples are daily practitioners of the new things they have learned.“Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings…” 2 Timothy 3:10
  2. Be with Jesus:
    Disciples understand that they are not just working FOR Jesus, but are called to be WITH Jesus. Daily time spent in God’s presence is crucial to staying on mission. Disciples understand the foundation of their calling comes from intimacy and closeness to God.“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
  3. Become like Jesus:
    Disciples are constantly changing and growing. This process of sanctification is evident in the lives of disciples who are making other disciples. Physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual progress are ongoing marks in the life of a disciple.“So walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10
  4. Do what Jesus did:
    Disciples quickly move from intellectual ascent to practical application. If study does not result in execution, then the discipleship process has stalled. A disciple’s level of knowledge should not outpace their level of obedience. “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.” —James 1:22

Are you actually making disciples, or have you just memorized the Great Commission? Do you simply preach sermons on Matthew 28:19-20, or is your life an example of Matthew 28:19-20? Leaders can eliminate confusion, so take the personal challenge of establishing a clear definition of disciple to equip your congregation to be successful at what God has called them to do.

Nathan Cline

President, Liberty Church Network

The Great Commission

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

~Matthew 28:18-20

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Rob Wetzel, LCN Director
[email protected], General Info
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