As the old saying goes, "if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." This helps us remember how important it is to work toward goals and objectives in whatever we do. If this is important in everything we are involved in, how much more when it comes to things that are eternal-God, His Word, and the souls of men?
What are the primary goals that the Disciplemaker is working toward? As I examine the New Testament, I believe there are two main goals of a Disciplemaker. To equip believers to grow and mature and to empower them to equip others.
I. Disciplemakers Equip Believers to Grow and Mature in Christ
Notice Paul's "mission statement" in the Book of Colossians: "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ" (Col. 1:28). Paul was not content simply to lead others to faith in Christ. His desire was to help them to come to full stature! He wanted to "present everyone mature in Christ." He had this end in mind-to equip believers to become whole-hearted followers of Jesus!
Later in the same letter, he writes: "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving" (Col. 2:6-7). In this text, his desired goal is that believers be "established in the faith." He would not be content with these believers just being evangelized! His great passion was that they be "rooted and built up" in foundational truth! Those who are "established in the faith" would be Disciplemakers or leaders of Disciplemakers.
Are you beginning your Discipleship group with the end in mind? The goal is not only to make disciples, but also to make disciples who will in turn make disciples.
II. Disciplemakers Empower Mature Believers to Equip Others
Paul embraced this strategy when it came to training Gospel co-workers. Notice what Paul admonished and exhorted his son in the faith, Timothy, to do: "And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). Paul entrusted Timothy with the Gospel, and he admonished him to entrust what he had received to faithful men who could "teach others also."
Clearly, the goal here is two-fold-Paul not only equipped Timothy with the Gospel message, but he empowered him to equip others!
The definition I use in our church for "making disciples" is this: "To equip believers with the Word of God, through accountable relationships, empowered by the Holy Spirit, so that they can mature in their faith and can replicate the process."
If that is true, the work of discipleship is not done until the mentee becomes the mentor. And although everyone who goes through a discipleship group will not lead a group, we still strive to empower everyone who is in the group to "reproduce after their kind" by replicating the process.
"If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." Be intentional! Equip your discipleship group to grow in their faith and then empower them to help equip others to grow in their faith!
Tim LaFleur serves as Disciplemaking Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.