Create a Disciple-Making Plan for 2014

Tim Brister —  December 28, 2013 — 7 Comments

One of the joys I have experienced through blogging is seeing a community of people embrace a challenge. In 2008, it was the Puritan Reading Challenge. In 2011, it was the Philippians Memory Moleskine. 2013 has been a year of reorientation around the mission of making disciples. I’ve always emphasized it in my teaching and preaching. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed reading about and speaking on. But I came to the sobering realization that I wasn’t doing much as a disciple-making practitioner. Things had to change.

Making Disciples Is Hard

Making disciples is the call of every believer in Jesus Christ. Yet, I dare say for most of us, it has been permitted to accept a version of Christianity both personally and corporately where disciple-making is virtually non-existent. Disciple-making Christians should not be considered the “hard core” version of Christians or the “elite forces” of the church militant. The fact that such attributions exist reveal how non-normative disciple-making has become.

For many of us, it could be that we are simply not well taught or well trained in the words and ways of Jesus. No doubt, that is an issue. But for all of us, disciple-making is just plain hard. It’s hard because we have years of non-disciple-making habits in us like inertia that need to be moved by Christ’s call of living on mission. It’s hard because we have rarely seen it modeled well before us and therefore disciple-making is turned into a program or function rather than a way of life. It’s hard because we have to evaluate our lives in light of the mission and make disciple-making a priority, and that can be a very painful and challenging process.

That is why I believe you and I need to have a disciple-making plan for our lives. Yes we need to pray. Yes we need to study and learn. But we also need a personal plan and process that we embrace in order to orient our lives around making, maturing, mobilizing, and multiplying disciples of Jesus Christ. It simply cannot be tangential or accidental or on the periphery of your life. It cannot be relegated to a small compartment of your life or canned program. To make disciples, you need to be “all in.”

Putting Together a Plan

Before we can begin to put together a plan, there are questions we must set before us throughout the process, questions like:

  • What needs to change in my daily/weekly priorities?
  • What needs to change in my thinking/perspective?
  • What needs to change in my lifestyle/rhythms of life?
  • What do I need to say no to in order to say yes to making disciples?

In putting together a plan, the easiest way to begin is by asking and answering the who-what-when-where–so what questions…

WHO – who are the people you are personally going to invest your life in? How many relationships do you have in your life that have disciple-making built into them? How many non-Christians do you know and are building a relationship with?

WHAT – what will be your objectives or goals? What are you seeking to impart to others? What will it take to see someone develop into a disciple-making disciple?

WHEN – when will you find time to make disciples? What kind of margin to you have in your time management efforts? When will you schedule time to meet regularly with the people you are investing in?

WHERE – where will you make disciples? In your neighborhood (first place)? In your school or workplace (second place)? In the rhythms of community life and culture centers (third places)?

HOW – how are you going to work this out on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? What is your strategy for making disciples? Maturing disciples? How are you being trained to do this? How are you going to train others through your life, example, influence, and instruction?

SO WHAT – so what if I don’t make disciples? What kind of accountability and encouragement do I have in this process? What kind of measurements of progress and growth? What kind of accessibility do others have to my life to help me keep my motivations and attitudes Christ-centered and kingdom-focused?

These are the kinds of questions we must be asking ourselves if we are going to take serious the call to make disciples. If you are thinking about putting a plan together, please do let me know. I’m working on mine now and hope to share it soon. As I’ve said earlier, it is tempting to shoot for targets that are much easier to hit, but it does not matter if the targets are nowhere near the heart of God. Making disciples has great kingdom consequence! Let’s stumble forward together in the hard, messy, and glorious work of making disciples of Jesus!

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  • Greg

    This is helpful – thanks. Trelis and Vine has a helpful table in it (which can appear clinical) but gets you to think about how to disciple individuals and get those people disciplining too. The Art of Disciple Making also has a helpful appendix on things to think about covering. All helpful tools… not silver bullets.

  • Galen Fred Morrison

    Tim… I found your blog from a Tweet by Ed Stetzer. Yesterday I began a new FB page related to the same subject… developing a plan. The FB page is called Developing Disciples and found at http://www.facebook.com/developingdisciples. Years ago I heard a pastor challenge us to be “Entrepreneurial Christians”, having a creative mind in doing God’s work. I do not believe it is an accident your very worthwhile blog was in my pathway this morning. Please come and “Like” the FB page. I look forward to reading more blogs. Peace and Grace!!

  • Tress

    I have printed this challenge and will be bringing it to my small group. As a pastor, I find that it is simply getting harder and harder to get people ‘on board’ with disciple making. Your questions will be great conversation starters. Thank you.

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  • Tyrone

    Thanks Tim! I’ve been struggling with how to do discipleship the last couple years. Looking forward to working towards a plan. These questions should give a good start. Thanks for sharing.

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