So, here’s the story. I have this friend. I’m only one of many friends he has. He’s a baker and makes the most awesome cakes. And ages ago, he gathered a bunch of his friends and sort of commissioned them to head out and enlist others to be cake bakers like him. It was a big deal, and that original group really got it! I mean, they were immediately baking cakes and enlisting others to bake cakes. The business grew exponentially.
But now, many years later, our group of cake bakers has sort of gotten off track. When we get together to talk about our enlistment and training program to develop more bakers, we tend to get bogged down. You will hear long discussions about what the proper recipe for the cake is or what qualifications and qualities we want to look for in a baker. Questions we often hear are “How will we know when we have successfully made a baker?” or “What kind of cakes should our new bakers be baking?” and “What does a fully developed baker look like?” People are always comparing recipes: “How did you make that cake? What were the ingredients? How long did it take?”
The consequence is that a relatively small percentage of our bakers rarely (if ever) actually enlist and train any new bakers. New baker numbers are in great decline. We have whole groups of bakers who haven’t enlisted or trained a single new baker at all, year after year. We have sort of changed the rules. Now when children who have grown up in our cake-baking world indicate they want to join us, kind of through osmosis, we count that as having achieved our goal. And we regularly claim as our own work bakers who move into town and join our little circle of bakers. But to actually go out and discover, enlist and develop a new baker? That’s become very rare.
And you know what? I miss the cakes.
The joy we all experienced when a new one came out of the oven would spread through the whole group and everyone would get that much more excited about their own cake and want others to share in that joy. And often, just from watching us and seeing and tasting and smelling the results, we would have people approach us, on their own, and ask if we’d show them how to bake. I wish we’d all just get back to baking.
A recipe for making disciples who make disciples:
So… how do we do a better job of not only being disciples, but making new ones?
Here are some starting places:
A disciple knows his mentor. If we are to be engaged in the process of becoming more like Jesus, a disciple must be an avid student of Jesus. The more we know Him, the better we will be able to reflect Him.
- Study His Word - (Have you ever asked a mentor “What are you reading?”) Spend time with the scriptures that were important to Christ.
- Study His Life - Become intimately familiar with how He lived, where He gained strength, direction and comfort. Begin to emulate your teacher.
- Communicate with Him regularly, seeking guidance, strength and fellowship with Him – In addition to reading God’s Word, develop the habit of regular communication with Christ through prayer.
As disciples become more like Christ through regularly practicing spiritual disciplines, they will ask the Lord to direct them to others whom he places in their path who express an interest in what they’re doing, why their life looks different or what they’re studying.
- Be open to the possibility that some people may approach you, and be prepared with an invitation for them to join you in the process.
- Beyond introducing new individuals to Christ, be open to developing a long-term mentoring relationship with those who do express interest and come to Christ. Discipleship is not a class they will take, it is a relationship they will develop with Christ as you provide an example, tools, resources, and encouragement.
- As you mentor them, from the very beginning, plant the idea that they should also look for others whom they can begin to disciple, as well.
- Remember that the goal is to make disciples who make disciples, not just make converts.
As you encourage new disciples and they eventually take responsibility for making disciples themselves, always be on the lookout for the next person(s) with whom you can repeat the process.
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