“Being a disciple begins with proper relationship to Jesus Christ and having on your heart what is on His. Making disciples begins with evangelism. As one person put it, the objective in the Christian life is to populate Heaven and depopulate Hell. . . . Underlying [Jesus’ example in John 4] is an important lesson for every aspiring disciple. His objective must be to reach the lost. To do this, he must follow the Savior’s example of being the ‘friend of publicans and sinners.’ Too many evangelicals interpret ‘separation from the world’ as meaning separation from worldly people. Evangelism begins with becoming friends with worldly people.”
— Walter Heinrichson, Disciples are Made — Not Born
Quick Thought: Who are your friends? Out of the last five friends you’ve had a serious conversation with, how many were not Christians?
Why read this? If you want to grow not only as a disciple but in making disciples, you’ll have to begin making non-Christian friends by living the “life-on-life” way. Here’s how to get started.
In the 85 years we’ve been equipping and training followers of Christ, one thing has remained unchanged: We’re committed to intentional, relational, life-on-life ministry.
But here’s the thing: in order to commit yourself to life-on-life relational ministry, you have to open the door to relationship: authentically caring about and pursuing friendship with the people around you.
And this is why The Barna Group has called their findings on the State of Discipleship in the American church “alarming”. Because “more than one-third of Christians say they prefer to pursue spiritual growth on their own. Similarly, two in five of all Christian adults consider their spiritual life ‘entirely private’.” Additionally, “among Christian adults, 35 percent are currently only using some sort of non-personal (podcasts or listening to music)” methods to grow spiritually.
One need only to flip through the pages of the New Testament to find this isolationist view of faith completely undermined by Jesus’ example and teachings. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus invites us to, “‘Come, follow me! And I will make you fishers of men.” He gives a very clear command in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” And in perhaps one of the most profound moments of the Gospel, Jesus is described in Matthew 9:36-38 as literally having his gut wrenched (the literal meaning of “compassion”) for the harassed and helpless people around him. He then issues one of His most challenging and convicting observations about His Kingdom: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…”
It was true 2,000 years ago, and it’s still true today. Disciples willing to become disciple-makers — Christ followers willing to apprentice themselves to Jesus and labor on behalf of the lost — are few and far between.
But this is also why we believe so deeply in The Apprentice Approach. We know there are people out there who want to become laborers, and the framework that The Apprentice Approach offers is beautiful is in its simplicity and its accessibility. Anyone can become a disciple-maker!
The first step in becoming a disciple-maker is simply this: Be relational with the people around you, especially with those who don’t know Jesus. Ask questions; get to know them as people and friends. Be vulnerable with your life, too — what’s good and what’s hard, and how Jesus is there in all of it.
Life-on-life ministry starts simply: watching football games with fellow fans or going hiking with a coworker. (You know, real life stuff.) And then as your relationship grows, and you’ve earned the right to speak into the life of your friend, you can start asking the harder questions about faith and values. As you share about how you seek Jesus, you begin to lay the foundation for an accurate view of our Savior King. And when your friend accepts Christ as Savior or decides to live a more dedicated life following him, your friendship and ministry grows even deeper.
Life-on-life ministry can look a lot of ways. For example:
- 5:30 am coffee while reading scripture together
- Emergency phone calls for prayer and interceding
- Asking hard questions you’ve never wanted to admit to wanting to ask God
It’s vitally important to spend time with the body of Christ. But it’s also vitally important to share Jesus through building new relationships, breaking out from behind comfort walls in order to put the Great Commission in action. So let’s go make disciples of Christ, teaching them to live by the authority of the Word. Will you join us in fulfilling your purpose on Earth by fulfilling Jesus’ greatest call?
The Apprentice Approach is about helping every-day people master the art of disciplemaking and grew out of the fact that…. Many Christians struggle with making disciples, they feel busy, overwhelmed and not qualified. We understand this struggle which is why we created a Bible based framework so any believer can master the art of disciplemaking! One of our outcomes is seeing the folks we engage with walk away saying, “I can do that!”