As part of my study on Disciple Making Movements, I’ve been reading through the gospels to see how Jesus approached making disciples.
Jesus invited people to become his disciples. In Mark 2:14, Jesus said to Levi (Matthew), “Follow me and be my disciple.” He didn’t tell him, “Follow me and when you’ve learned enough, you can be my disciple.” Too often, we make discipleship a teacher/learner process, whereas Jesus regarded anyone who followed (and obeyed) him as a disciple, right from the get go.
Our friend, Molong, in the Philippines has a very simple pattern of making disciples. He’ll say to someone, “You’re my friend and you believe in me, would you like to become a disciple?” Then he tells them about following Jesus. When they say “yes,” he baptizes them, and teaches them how to do the same for their friends. He now has disciples down to the 14th generation. If you follow him on facebook, you’ll come across posts like ” XXX (second generation) says they are going to baptize seven people today.” There are around 600 new believers who have become disciples in this way. Their “follow-up” consists of living life together–not under the same roof, but as an everyday occurrence.
Within evangelicalism, one-on-one is a preferred method of discipleship . I have no doubt as to its effectiveness (wish someone had been there to disciple me as a young believer). However, recently I’ve been questioning this.
There were only two occasions I can find in the gospels where Jesus had a conversation with one of the disciples alone. One was with Peter over the paying of taxes (go and catch a fish) and the other, also with Peter, was about forgiving people seventy times seven times. As far as I can see, every other interaction that is recorded involves a group of them–of at least two or three.
There was one occasion where it specifically states Jesus was alone for a conversation with someone–the woman at the well. And we assume (although it doesn’t say so) that he was alone with Nicodemus in John 3.
Other than that, once he had chosen the twelve, Jesus worked with groups–groups of his disciples, the crowds, challenged groups of Pharisees and Sadducees. Other conversations where it appears he was talking to individuals, if you examine the context, were all within a group situation.
What can we learn from this?