Discipleship is teaching and modeling what it looks like to follow Jesus and lead people into a relationship with Him. While there is no absolute formula for making perfect disciples, it’s good to be intentional and seek God’s will for how He’d like to guide you in this process.
What is a discipleship process? A discipleship process is a journey someone goes through to become more like Jesus. It is a process through which they learn more about God, His Word, and grow in spiritual maturity, and make more disciples.
If you want to disciple someone, know that this is an amazing desire, and Jesus will be with you the whole way. In fact, Jesus modeled for us how to disciple others and lead them into a relationship with the Father.
Here are the 6 steps I found from Jesus’ example in the discipleship process:
- Love Them
- Show Them
- Teach Them
- Correct Them
- Equip Them
- Send Them
1. Love Them
We love because He first loved us.1 John 4:19 ESV
Before the foundation of the world, Jesus loved us and sent His sights on coming to save us and redeem us, all for relationship. Because He loved us first, we can now love others. This love should be the basis of all that we do, and from it comes the basis of discipling others.
When Jesus began His ministry, He went about preaching, teachings, and healing, as well as leading others. It would’ve been expected for Jesus to do all of this for the more respected people in His society, but instead, He chose to love and hang around the least of these.
Jesus loved tax collectors and sinners, fishermen, and normal people. Those were the ones who followed Him, the ones who He discipled. Because of this, we should teach the ones we are discipling to love others as well, and not just people who are lovable, but those who seem unloveable too.
This doesn’t mean you can’t teach those you’re discipling that they can’t love anyone other than these types of people, but remember that everyone is broken and no one will be perfect. Even Jesus’ disciples betrayed him, deserted him, and denied him, but He loved them to the end.
Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.John 13:1 CSB
So, before you start discipling others, know that they are broken people too, people who may seem hard to love. But we are called to love them no matter what and ask Jesus to see people through His eyes.
2. Show Them
When discipling others and leading them along in the discipleship process, we are called to point them to Jesus and help them live the life worthy of their calling.
We should be walking the walk, not just talking the talk, and show them how to live according to God’s purposes.
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
As Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him as He imitated Christ, we should be modeling Jesus’ love and actions so well that it inspires others to do the same.
Jesus was a pure reflection of the Father and called us to know Him through His actions.
Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works.John 14:9-10 CSB
Just like Jesus, we are image-bearers of the Father and so when we are bringing people through the discipleship process let’s remember to show them who Jesus is and encourage them to imitate Him in everything.
3. Teach Them
As Jesus went throughout His ministry, His disciples followed him in all of his preaching, teaching, and healing. Along the way, Jesus spoke many parables and taught large crowds about the word of God and about loving each other.
Most times the disciples were confused about Jesus’ parables and teachings, so Jesus took the disciples aside by themselves and taught them about the word of God and what it meant.
In Matthew 13, Jesus speaks of multiple parables and teaches the people how they should live. After this, Jesus takes the disciples aside and explains these things to them in more detail, showing them the value in God’s word and the importance of living it out.
Therefore,’ he said to them, ‘every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom treasures new and old.’Matthew 13:52 CSB
When we teach His word, it is like bringing out treasure new and old. This is why it’s important to teach disciples about the Bible in the process of discipleship.
4. Correct Them
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17 CSB
Once we have taught the word, we cannot expect everyone to get it correct 100% of the time.
It’s ok if people make mistakes, but as we disciple others we should not be afraid to correct them in the process and point them back to Jesus.
Even Jesus called Peter out for being worried about human concerns and not God’s concerns (Matthew 16:23).
We are called to correct people and call them higher, but not to our own standards, but to God’s standards. This does not mean we can be harsh with people, but instead compassionate knowing that we are called righteous because of Jesus’ righteousness, not our own.
True disciples will accept His word and correction and repent if they have turned away. As we disciple these people, let’s help them through this so that they may be complete and equipped for every good work.
5. Equip Them
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of ChristEphesians 4:11-13 ESV
Whoever it is that you’re leading through the discipleship process, know that they have incredible God-given gifts that can be used for the Kingdom of God.
Help them develop these gifts and strengthen them so that they will be ready to make disciples of their own and serve the Body of Christ in their own unique way.
6. Send Them
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:18-20
As we are discipled, Jesus commissions us to go, and make disciples, telling all the nations about Him. That is what we are here for, the sending of disciples so that everyone may know, love, and worship the Father.
The goal is multiplication, so as you make disciples and follow through on all the steps in this process, remember the end goal.
Even if all you do is make one disciple, what could happen from that one person? They themselves could make two disciples and those two could make two more disciples, and so on.
This is an important task, and one that seem to start with 6 simple steps.
Why A Discipleship Process Matters
God calls us to be intentional in all that we do, especially when making disciples.
We can follow His lead, imitating Jesus as we point others to Him, teaching, correcting, equipping, and sending them so that everyone may know the love of the Father.
This is the goal, to see others grow in spiritual maturity and lead them into a relationship with Jesus, knowing that His love will multiply and transform the lives of people all over the world through an intentional discipleship process.