Last week, we discussed evangelism, which is the second field of our Four Fields ministry strategy that’s built upon The Parable of the Growing Seed. Today we’re discussing the third field in hopes of encouraging and strengthening your discipleship relationships.
Field 3: Discipleship
A seed that finds rests in the proper soil will burst to life. It sprouts up, grows, and resides among other plants reproducing in the field. The sower’s responsibility is to plant the seed and tend to the newly growing plant, yet he has no control over the overall growth and health of the seed.
“He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how.” -Mark 4:27
From this verse, we learn that the sower can anticipate growth of the scattered seeds with a goal of healthy, reproducing plants.
Just like a growing field of plants, the Kingdom of God is full of healthy, reproducing disciples of Jesus. With God nurturing the growth, Christ’s disciples must be obedient in making disciples who make disciples. A disciple is like a growing plant in God’s field.
"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 28:19-20
These are some of Jesus’ last and most important words. Following His resurrection, He appeared to several of His disciples. Prior to his death, Jesus had spent a significant amount of time with His disciples in which he proclaimed the Kingdom and trained them to do the Father’s work just as He did.
In these last few words, Jesus reemphasizes His authority, commands the disciples to “go and make disciples,” and reassures them that He will always be with them. These final instructions were not just for Jesus’ current disciples, but for the many future generations in His Kingdom. This is known as the Great Commission.
What is a disciple?
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” -Mark 1:17
A disciple is someone who follows Jesus and fishes for people. Discipleship is a life-long process of learning how to obey Jesus and resembling Him more and more through obedience.
A disciple hears the Word of God and does the Word of God.
Discipleship is a command, but it is also a part of a disciple’s identity. Followers of Jesus become new creations with a new purpose in life, which is to serve as Christ’s ambassadors on earth. To see growth in the Kingdom, disciples must fully embrace their identities through proclaiming Jesus and continuing his work generationally through making disciples (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; John 17:20).
How do we practically “make disciples” today?
It seems like there are countless books, programs, and strategies to help in the discipleship process. There is no single, perfect method, and there is freedom in the variety of strategies. Yet, if we are seeking Kingdom growth, there are a few things to consider in how we make disciples.
1. Set a pattern of obedience and accountability.
Part of Jesus’ command to the disciples is to “teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). The end goal of discipleship should always rooted in obedience to Jesus. It should consist of a growing dependence on Christ as we depend on each other in accountability. Early on with your disciples, guide them to obey basic commands from Jesus found in Scripture. This will help set an “obedience DNA” that will naturally multiply to their disciples.
2. Keep it simple, but biblical.
Jesus does not tell us to make disciples of “one singular nation”. He tells us to make disciples of “all nations”. Our discipleship method must be able to transcend all cultures, backgrounds, and educational levels. Keep it solely based in following principles and commands found in the Word of God.
3. Foster a culture of reproducibility and multiplication.
Healthy things grow and reproduce. As we make disciples, we must always be conscious of the reproducibility of the pattern that we set.
Training a disciple to obey Jesus, rather than simply teaching them information is key to seeing discipleship multiply. Are we just cognitively teaching people about Jesus or are we practically giving them skills and experience in following Him?
As seed sowers planting the gospel, we also have the privilege of being a part of the seed’s growth. But then, what happens after the field becomes full of growing plants?
About Four Fields
Four Fields is East-West’s ministry model that includes entering new ministry fields, sharing the gospel, discipling new believers, gathering as church, and developing leaders to continue this ongoing cycle. Based on The Parable of the Growing Seed in Mark 4:26-29, we believe this strategy is seen in the ministry of Jesus and his disciples and is ultimately fueled by the Holy Spirit.