The Four Types of Disciple Makers


By now you should realize I believe that all pastors are called to make disciples. I also believe that virtually all desire to make disciples. In some way, most believe they are already doing so. But like other work in life, you know if the work of discipleship is being done by the fruit it produces. Our desire to make disciples is much like our desire to be fit, eat right, get plenty of sleep, and develop a less stressful schedule. The desire is there, but if we lack an intentional plan, we end up out of shape, overweight, cranky, and stressed. And we make excuses to avoid living with the constant guilt. We need an intentional plan for disciple-making. If we have no plan, there is no chance of discipleship happening. There will be no fruit.

Some will offer excuses at this point, and many of these are true. They will say they never get around to disciple-making because of other pressing issues. Most pastors find the daily realities of overseeing a congregation prove to be the greatest obstacle. But having a reason doesn’t mean you have a valid excuse.

When it comes to disciple-making, pastors are like the soil in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:18–23). Many hear the message and just don’t understand it. For years, pastors have taught that making disciples means evangelizing the world. They skip over Jesus’ imperative in the Great Commission to “make disciples” and pay little attention to the sentence, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you (Matt. 28:20 NLT). That was something for Christian educators to figure out.

Other pastors get excited about making disciples and enthusiastically try, but they run into problems. As soon as it gets difficult and the price becomes too high, they drop the idea. Sure they may dabble in it a bit from time to time, but it is not the focus of their ministry.

A third category of pastors are those who hear the call to make disciples and give it go, but the mundane and the ordinary nature of the work causes it to lose its appeal. These pastors get sucked into quicker, easier, programmatic approaches. They hear something is working in another church, and they switch plans, abandoning the daily, ongoing work of personally forming disciples. It’s not that these pastors are distracted. They just grow bored.

The fourth category of pastors are those who hear and understand. The seeds of disciple-making take root, and they produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much through a commitment to make disciples who make more disciples who make still more disciples (2 Tim. 2:2).

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This excerpt has been adapted from Conversion and Discipleship.

Image credit: Unsplash.