Discipling Only “Fourth Soilers”


Your decision of whom you select to disciple is critical, so you must begin by discipling people in the church who will become the disciple-making leaders of the church. They might not be those type of leaders yet, but they should be fourth-soil kind of people already. We call these people fourth soilers because they are like the fourth-soil people Jesus describes in his parable of the sower in Mark 4. These are people who hear God’s Word, put it into practice, and multiply thirty, sixty, and one hundred times.

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Fourth soilers are not necessarily “the best and the brightest” or even the people to whom you naturally gravitate. It’s often only through prayer and time that you discover the two or three fourth soilers to whom God wants you to devote yourself for the next months of your life. Jesus prayed all night before he selected his twelve disciples, and he chose twelve extremely different men. Each one was, apparently, very ordinary (Acts 4:13). Jesus’ selection of his disciples is the only time on record that he prayed all night about something.

Pray that God will direct you to fourth soilers. Some might be older, while others may be younger; some may have similar interests to yours, while others may be nothing like you. Just as God selected David to be king of Israel based on his heart and not by outward appearance, we encourage you to also choose people to disciple based on the prayerful discernment of the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Pray for people who love Jesus, obey Jesus, and actually want to be discipled. After you’ve prayed and have some direction, invite these people to your discipleship group. If they say “yes” and a couple of others do, too, you’re on your way to being a disciple-making leader. Don’t underestimate the importance of your choice of disciples. If you don’t disciple fourth soilers or people who become fourth soilers, don’t expect to create a disciple-making movement because only fourth soilers multiply—and a disciple-making movement demands multiplication.

Begin making disciples with people like Dave, who is a fourth soiler at my (Ben’s) church. When I started making disciples with just a few guys, Dave was one of them. Dave, who is now an older man, had been discipled when he was a new disciple. This early discipleship experience deeply impacted Dave. He gives thanks for it all the time. When I began leading discipleship groups at Cypress, Dave joined me in leading his own groups, and we grew in disciple making together.

After several years of leading discipleship groups, God gave Dave a passion for discipling younger men in our congregation, not just other men in general. He meets with three or four young men at a time over months to study Scripture, pray, and share lessons he’s learned about being a Christian man and husband with them. Dave’s disciple making has a strong Titus 2 older man-younger man feel to it. Just as Dave had been discipled as a young man, now as an older man, he is discipling young men. When you begin making disciples, start with fourth soilers like Dave.

This was taken from The Discipleship Gospelby Bill Hull and Ben Sobels. Used by permission of HIM Publications. Use code TBP at checkout for a discount when you place your order here.