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Living it Out! - Intentional Disciple-Making


The late British evangelist Gypsy Smith powerfully reminded us, "There are five gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, but most people never read the first four."

The Great Commission is more than a command for the Christian: it is a life. A life to which the world around us interprets as the gospel. Believers are called not only to go and teach the gospel but also to depict it.[1]

Intentional disciple-making is both a call and a process. Making disciples may begin with evangelism, but the Great Commission is not simply getting people saved. According to Jesus, it takes people to full maturity in Christ. How do we bring people into full maturity in Christ? Jesus says this is done by "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

Think of all Jesus commanded: A disciple is taught how to love God, how to love neighbor, how to forgive, how to no longer lust, how to care for the poor and the outcast, how to take on the virtues of the Kingdom – humility, peacemaking, hungering and thirsting after righteousness - this is the call for each of us.  Intentional disciple-making is the whole package: it is about winning souls and growing souls through the compelling love of Christ.[2]

A Life-Changing Gift

Intentional disciple-making is a life-changing gift. I remember when I came to faith, I was not just invited to interact with believers in the context of a church service or a Bible study. Instead, mature, solid believers loved me, poured into me, invited me into their homes, opened their lives, and were willing to jump into the messy parts of my own life.

Just as our Lord modeled this for the disciples, I got a front-row seat to believers who said: come run with us, watch our lives, our marriage, the way we parent our children, the way we steward our finances and love our neighbor; Christ has infiltrated every aspect of our lives; come and see the goodness of God.

Count the Cost

As I look back on this, I realize how open, available, and patient these believers were. Intentional disciple-making means giving your LIFE to someone else, and the early disciples understood this. The disciple, Peter, summarizes the heart of what a disciple is when he says, "Behold, Lord, we have left everything and followed you, what will there be left for us?" Peter and the disciples saw the cost of discipleship – and this is how they heard the command to make disciples and what they were going to ask of others!

To be an effective disciple-maker, there must not be a large gap between what we know about the Bible and the degree to which those truths have been experienced and lived out in our own lives. As disciple-makers, we must know more than just the content of the Bible. We must live out the reality of "laying aside the old self"[3] and relentlessly pursuing the “harassed and helpless”[4]. Disciple-makers model a humble opening to the truth[5]regarding the various sins and vices of our former manner of life so that Christ working within us will be an encouragement to others.[6]

Disciple-making is a living reflection of a deep abiding faith; we live a life of authenticity with believers pouring into us, so we can humbly pour into others. Disciple-making means making time to develop deep relationships and being matured to look more like Christ by leaning on His Spirit[7] as we work through victories and valleys. In honest, authentic disciple-making relationships, we will be misunderstood and humbly have hard, even frustrating conversations, as well as rejoice as we see the uncommitted and opposed transform into fully devoted followers of Christ. Giving and receiving encouragement and admonishment brings both pruning and fruit. Still, through it, we will grow to have compassion as our own Savior did in understanding the need for disciple-making.[8]

Embrace the Gospel

For many of us, intentional disciple-making will sound radically different and much more costly than what you have understood disciple-making to be. Many believers move through the Christian life stagnant in their disciple-making as they have never been discipled themselves. We must uncover and address our hidden hearts, sins, and struggles by opening ourselves to the Lord and the disciple-making process. Still, too often in Christian culture, we have valued personal comfort and affluence in our lives rather than opening ourselves to radically being loved and loving others in the way we have been called to. Many believers have missed out on the blessing of being unconditionally loved, mentored, listened to, or poured into by another believer. As a church, we must embrace the gospel, understand that only God can change hearts but that we must open our souls and lives so that God may be glorified through them.[9] In the new value of intentional disciple-making, we call the church to embrace the gospel and reexamine our lives as disciples so we may present everyone mature in Christ.[10] As we consider how we are opening ourselves to intentional disciple-making, we should ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Are you being poured into by another believer?

If not, please call the church offices; we would love to connect you with a mentor and/or community leader who would love to help you grow as a disciple.

  • Perhaps you are being mentored and discipled by others; then it is the time to ask: who are you pouring into?

If you are looking for opportunities to pour into others, please visit here.


[1] Bobby Conway

[2] Dr. John Coe, The Great Commission as Spiritual Formation

[3] Eph. 4:22

[4] Matt. 9:36-38

[5] Ps. 139:23-24

[6] 2 Tim. 2:1-2

[7] Acts 1:8

[8] Matt. 9:36

[9] Rom. 10:14-17

[10] Col. 1:28-29