photo of pile of oranges
Discipleship 101

How To Make Disciples: The Machine is Broken

Here is a beautiful picture of how we the church have lost the art of making disciples.

One Spring, my family and I were traveling through Florida on our way from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa. As we were driving along, I was impressed by the beauty of the acres and acres of orange groves. As far as the eye could see, there were orange trees loaded with fruit. We were still in the middle of orange country when we stopped for the night at a motel. The next morning we went down to a restraunt for breakfast and I ordered orange juice with my eggs.

The waitress came back shortly with some bad news, “Sir,” she said, “I can’t bring you any orange juice. Our machine is broken.”

At first, I sat there dumbfounded. I knew we surrounded by millions of oranges and I knew there were oranges in the kitchen (they used orange slices as a garnish on the plates they served.) But not that I wanted a glass of orange juice, I could not have it. I began to reflect on the situation. what was the problem? No orange juice? Hardly.

We were in the middle of thousands of gallons of orange juice. The problem was that she had become so dependent on the machine that when it broke down she couldn’t serve a glass of orange juice.

Christians are like that sometimes. If something happens to the pastor or church they would go without their spiritual food. They would go hungry…The problem is not that there is no spiritual food. The problem is that many Christians do not know how to get it for themselves. They are like babies in a pantry surrounded by all kinds of canned goods. They would starve to death unless someone opened those cans for them. –Eims, The Lost Art of Disciple Making

Are we ready to stop relying on the machine of church programs and sermons or books to disciple us, our friends, and children. It’s our personal responsibility and JOY to know the message, to be a disciple, and to know how to make disciples. Discipleship is simply letting the fruit of our lips speak seed, talking about the message of Jesus as led by His Spirit. We come in contact with a person, either intentionally or simply while going through our day and we start praying—Jesus, what is your message to this person today? What do you want to say or do for them?

Then we say it. With great love and conviction. By the power of the Holy Spirit.

What we are giving is not our opinion so we don’t soften it. Instead we speak the truth in love and watch what happens.

God will heal those whose hearts are soft and He unsettles those who are not aligned with his word. Don’t be thrown off. Don’t waver. His word never returns void but accomplishes what it set out to do.

The Goal of Jesus

We know that the project of God is the salvation of the world and the restoration of relationship with Him as sons and daughters, joyfully yielded to His leadership.

I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, and My daughters from the ends of the earth. Isaiah 43:6

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14

It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. John 6:45

[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Can you imagine if every Christian was prioritizing the project of God as their life’s work?–walking in power to minister the gospel of Christ to anyone they meet? Dropping seed from their lips growing from hearts implanted with the message of Christ, the seed. And for this to happen the word of Christ has to dwell in us richly. In other words, if we want to love God and obey Jesus in making disciples we have to know and love Him and know what He said, determining ourselves to obey and yield to Christ’s interpretation of the law of God, which is clear to anyone willing to obey.

Only one catch…to make a disciple, you have to BE a disciple. You won’t make disciples unless you have repented and surrendered your life to His agenda.

The reality is, many of us are not. And many are trying to “share Jesus” from a place of obedience, but they do not know Him. And all they feel is frustration because there is no fire and enlivening by the Holy Spirit. If you need to be discipled, there is no shame in that, but find someone who can feed you until you can feed yourself. Don’t just stay a baby. Find someone who will commit to help you grow in Christ by reading the word and memorizing and meditating on scripture.

Don’t ask people to mentor you. You do not need to be mentored by a person, you need to learn to be taught by God. If you ask me to mentor you I will say no. I have nothing of my own to give you. I will normally say yes to a discipleship relationship which helps you listen to the Holy Spirit and be grounded in prayer and the word of God. Because I do know Christ. I have resolved to let that be all I really claim to know. And what HE has given us is a treasure I have traded my whole life to buy. So I know you can hold it, own it. And once you have it, you can give it to others.

If you ask me to disciple you, I will ask you two things:

  1. I will ask if you have repented from sin, clothing yourself with the righteousness of Christ, becoming a son or daughter of God (Romans 13:14, Isaiah 61:10).
  2. I will ask if you are committed to obeying the truth of scripture and clothing yourself with righteous acts (1 John 3:10; Revelation 17:7-8).

If those two things are in place, the person has claimed to submit their will to God and will be easy to lead. If these things are not in place, then you need to talk to the person about truly surrendering their life to Christ.

It is quite possible you will be discipling people before they are fully committed to Christ. For those who are discipling in particularly difficult nations, we hear the reminder, “We disciple to convert, we do not convert to disciple.”

And if you think you get a pass on making disciples because you are a woman, think again. The woman at the well was the first to call Jesus “Messiah” publicly. The women who funded Jesus ministry supported the message being spoken, and Mary was the first to preach the good news of the resurrection to the disciples in hiding.

You are a sent one.

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