Discipleship is the process of helping grow others in their relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s about learning to become a better disciple and follower of Jesus and modeling that for others. One way to be encouraged in this process of discipleship is by hearing stories of how others have done it well.
What are the best discipleship stories? The best discipleship stories are from the Bible and from modern Christians today. These stories include Jesus’ discipleship with His disciples. The remarkable story of the apostle Paul’s mission work. There are even modern-day discipleship stories that come from businesses, schools, and even online discipling opportunities from today’s world.
Discipleship can be a hard process. It involves loving and serving people, so it’s bound to get messy. However, discipleship is the most rewarding task since it’s about following Jesus and helping others do the same.
5 Discipleship Stories From The Bible
The best discipleship stories are from the Bible, where God uses normal people to do extraordinary acts of discipleship for His glory.
We see examples of discipleship both in the New and Old testament. This shows that Christ not only wants to be known, but wants relationship with all His children.
These stories are examples for us to apply to our own discipleship journeys.
1. Jesus And His Disciples
The best example that we have for discipleship is from Jesus Himself.
Jesus used parables, teachings, and real-life experiences to shape His disciples into the apostles they became.
There was nothing super-human about these 12 apostles. Jesus did not use anothers process, but instead created His own.
It was just living life together, learning how to love God wholeheartedly, and learning how to love and serve others like themselves.
You can go into more depth about Jesus’ discipleship process as you read through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament. The main point to note is that Jesus called the disciples to be fishers of men because He wanted to disciple people in love so that they could go on to make disciples too.
As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter), and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. ‘Follow me,’ He told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.Matthew 4:18-20 CSB
Among all of Jesus’ discipleship stories, they were all mainly focused on the two greatest commandments. Love God. Love people.
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Matthew 22:37-39 NIV
This kind of love only comes from abiding in Jesus and staying in His word. Without a deep relationship with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit in our lives, our discipleship will not be effective.
2. Eli And Samuel
Next on the list are the two prophets, Eli and Samuel.
Samuel was a miracle child who was gifted to his barren mother by God. He was raised in the faith. After growing up, he went to go live with the prophet Eli in the Lord’s temple.
The boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.1 Samuel 3:1 CSB
Eli trained and mentored Samuel when they lived in the temple together. One night Samuel was awakened to God calling his name. Samuel thought it was Eli, so he went to him to see what he needed.
Eli however, was sleeping the whole time, and after the Lord called Samuel three times, Eli realized what Samuel needed to do.
Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the boy. He told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.1 Samuel 3:8-9 CSB
Samuel went back to bed and did what Eli told him to do. Because of his obedience to Eli, he heard the word of the Lord.
Unfortunately, Samuel heard that God’s judgment and punishment were coming on Israel, specifically Eli’s own evil family. Samuel knew it would be hard for Eli to hear, but Eli’s leadership and discipleship prompted Samuel to stick to God’s word no matter what and tell him the truth.
‘What was the message he gave you?’ Eli asked. ‘Don’t hide it from me. May God punish you and do so severely if you hide anything from me that he told you.’
So Samuel told him everything and did not hide anything from him. Eli responded, ‘He is the Lord. Let him do what he thinks is good.’
1 Samuel 3:17-18 CSB
Eli’s faithfulness and trust in the Lord in the midst of great sorrow is an example to follow when discipling someone.
This example went on to shape Samuel’s life as he continued to share God’s truth and prophecies with the rest of Isreal. It’s even cool to see how God prepared Samuel for the confrontation he would have with David about his sin in the future.
From Eli and Samuel’s example, we can be reassured that the Lord is good and has a pan in even the most sobering moments.
3. Philip And The Ethiopian
An example of effective discipleship that stems from an overflowing of the Holy Spirit is the story of Philip and the Ethiopian.
Acts 8 talks about the Spirit told Philip to join an Ethiopian Eunuch in a chariot who was reading the prophet of Isaiah. The Ethiopian had no clue what the passage meant, so he asked Philip to explain it to him.
When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you’re reading?’
‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone guides me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.Acts 8:30-31 CSB
Because Philip had studied the scriptures and knew Jesus, he was able to ask the man if he understood what he was reading. He was able to show how the passage of scripture prophesied about Jesus. From there, Philip told the Ethiopians all about the good news of the gospel.
Because Philip began with the word of God, he was able to lead this man to Christ and baptize him.
As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, ‘Look, there’s water. What would keep me from being baptized?’ So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.Acts 8:36-38 CSB
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian is a great story about the beginning of the discipleship process. It’s centered on who Jesus is and His gospel, but this story is solely the beginning.
Discipleship is more than sharing the gospel, it’s walking alongside someone in the sanctifying work God is doing in their life. If the Spirit can whisk Philip away to Caeserea shortly after this encounter. We can be sure that the Spirit also sent others to disciple the Ethiopian further into his discipleship journey.
4. Moses And Joshua
Moses and Joshua’s story has one of the most influential discipleship models from the Old Testament.
Moses was the man who led the Israelites out of Egypt and led them through the wilderness. Joshua was the man who led them into the promised land.
Moses was a great leader but still had his struggles. He disobeyed God along the way. Because of his disobedience and the Israelites’ rebellion, God did not allow them to enter the promised land.
Instead, Moses was to raise up Joshua to lead the next generation of Israelites according to God’s law and plans.
You can find most of the accounts of Moses’ mentorship of Joshua in Numbers 11-27, Exodus 17-33, and Deuteronomy 31 where Joshua eventually takes Moses’ place in leading the Israelites.
One of the key aspects of this discipleship process was that Moses heavily emphasized the importance of following, obeying, and completely depending on the word of God. He made sure that Joshua knew this, and told him in front of all the priests of Isreal.
Gather the people—men, women, dependents, and the resident aliens within your city gates—so that they may listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and be careful to follow all the words of this law.Deuteronomy 31:12 CSB
Moses also commissioned Joshua as God commissioned him, doing nothing apart from God’s call. If we’re discipling other believers, we should seek God’s will for them. We need to also call them according to God’s words, not our own.
The Lord said to Moses, ‘The time of your death is now approaching. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting so that I may commission him.’Deuteronomy 31:14 CSB
Another aspect of Moses’ discipleship process was how He called Joshua higher and commanded him to be strong and very courageous. This was a huge theme for Joshua since he would have to rely on God for strength and courage throughout the rest of his life.
Moses then summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you will go with this people into the land the Lord swore to give to their ancestors.
You will enable them to take possession of it. The Lord is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.’
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 CSB
There are loads of wisdom from Moses’ discipleship of Joshua. The main point throughout the discipleship story of Moses and Joshua is to follow God’s word wholeheartedly for yourself, and then help others do the same.
God even told Joshua that doing this would be a challenge since it takes lots of strength and courage to lead people in His commands. Because of Moses’ example, Joshua was able to successfully lead the Israelites into the promised land with God.
5. The Apostle Paul
The apostle Paul is probably one of the most influential disciple-makers in the New Testament other than Jesus. After his radical conversion on the road to Damascus, he was sent by Jesus to the Gentile world.
Paul himself was discipled for a number of years, first by Ananias and then by the other apostles that knew Jesus. Paul went onto become a disciple-maker by going on at least three missionary journeys, planting at least 14 churches, and writing the 13 epistles that we can read in the New Testament today.
Paul didn’t do this all on his own. However, because he was lead by the love of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and always had a team of believers with him.
One person on Paul’s team who Paul discipled was Timothy.
To Timothy, my true son in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.1 Timothy 1:2 CSB
Timothy was a young man who was raised by a God-fearing mom and Grandma. Paul saw this and took him along on some of his missionary journeys, treating Timothy like a son and sharing life with him.
From this, Timothy went on to lead the church in Ephesus and Paul continued to write letters to him on how to lead the church, follow God, and disciple others well.
You can read more about all of Paul’s wild stories of discipleship in 1 and 2 Timothy and especially in Acts. Acts is a page-turner of a book and is interwoven with each of Paul’s letters that he wrote to the churches and the church leaders.
The apostle Paul is the perfect example that anyone can become a disciple-maker catalyst. He started off persecuting the church and killing Christians, but through God’s grace and Jesus’ Spirit, he went on to do incredible things that would shape how we do discipleship today.
So, if you are doubting whether or not you could be a disciple-maker, know that because of Paul’s story and the grace of God, you can lead people to Christ and make disciples who make disciples.
3 Discipleship Stories From Today
Discipling people is an important task, but not just for the early church. It’s still vital to our churches today.
Evangelism or telling people the gospel is great. Without continuing that mentorship process, people’s faith can fall flat. That’s why I’ve found the best stories of discipleship of today that we can learn from.
1. Discipleship Training Schools
Discipleship training schools are great places to begin to be discipled and to learn how to disciple others.
One of these discipleship schools with a great story of discipleship is called Bethany Global University.
At Bethany Global University, five families who were sold out for Christ in the 1950s decided to start a discipleship training school that would take the church to where it’s not.
These five families gave up their own desires to pursue Christ’s plan for them. They didn’t stop there though. They started the school so that many others could have an opportunity to take the church to where it’s not and teach others to do the same.
This has led Bethany Global University to train and equip 3,000+ missionaries. Then send them to preach the gospel and make disciples all over the world.
Now, you can join BGU’s story of discipleship through their different programs.
With the Bachelor’s program, all of this is paired with a 13-month internship overseas to help you become equipped to make disciples who make disciples.
If you want to be a part of BGU’s story of discipleship or other discipleship training schools’ stories, here are some resources to help you do just that:
- Top 25 Discipleship Training Programs & How They Work
- Missions/Missionary Colleges: Top 25 & What to Consider
- The Ultimate Guide to Missionary College Programs
2. Don Larson Of Sunshine Nut Company
The story of Sunshine Nut Company is one of complete abandonment for Christ.
Sunshine Nut Co. was founded by Don Larson, a man who followed God’s call on his life to drop his job with Hershey and another large Cocoa company to start a Business as Mission in Mozambique.
This Business as Mission allows him to sell the world’s best cashews and love the people of Mozambique just as Jesus would.
By acting as a Jesus-Entrepreneur and teaching people how to work with integrity and dignity, Don is able to create value to people’s lives and open doors for discipleship, jobs, and transformation.
You can read the rest of don’s story here, at Sunshine Nut Company’s website.
3. Online Discipleship
Amidst Covid-19, Christians everywhere have had to get more creative about how to disciple others. One way that they’ve turned these challenges into opportunities is by discipling people online or digitally.
A story of how this was done was by a very good friend of mine. As a teacher and student studying Education as Missions, my friend began an online teaching Livestream on Facebook during the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Over the course of a few weeks, many people from all over the world were able to hop on and let their kids listen to her educational stories.
One of these stories my friend told was the story of the gospel, and how Jesus came down, lived a blameless life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead so that we could have a relationship with Him now and for forever.
Surprisingly, a mother from the Middle East accessed her Livestream and was curious about this story of the gospel. Now, my friend has been able to have conversations with her about the Bible and Jesus and continues to disciple her online.
Online discipleship may seem challenging, but it can also open doors that we could’ve otherwise never have opened ourselves.
Discipleship Stories Make A Difference
Discipleship stories make a difference because they encourage and inspire us to disciple others just as Jesus would.
They remind us of the importance of using God’s words to disciple others, and how many discipleship opportunities may come up in extremely unexpected ways such as business and online outlets.
From discipleship stories in the Bible and in Christian’s lives today, we can know that God is on the move and wants everyone to be saved and wants everyone to have a relationship with him both in this life and the one to come.