MANILA, PHILIPPINES—I received the following seven questions from someone who is writing a paper for a class about whether discipleship “has value in today’s context.”
Here are my quick answers to his important questions:
Q1: What is a disciple?
A1: A disciple is someone who follows Jesus, “fishes” for people, and does this in fellowship with other disciples while carrying a cross. Discipleship is not complicated. Difficult, yes. Complicated, no. It is so simple that a carpenter described it to uneducated fishermen 2000 years ago in one sentence. (See Matthew 4:19 for that sentence.)
Q2: Do you have to be saved to be a disciple?
A2: Yes. But since evangelism is the starting point of making disciples, the discipleship journey starts long before one is saved.
Q3: Are all Christians disciples? If not, what are the differences?
A3: All should be, but unfortunately not all are following Jesus, fishing for people, or fellowshipping with others. And not all are carrying a cross and living a life of self-denial.
Q4: Does church membership make one a disciple?
A4: No. Most churches spend a lot of time, energy, and money developing a membership process, but no time developing a discipleship process. Therefore, they are successful at making members but failing miserably at making disciples.
Q5: What does a disciple’s life look like?
A5: Following Jesus (devotion). Fishing for people (evangelism). Fellowshipping with other believers (community). Carrying a cross (self-denial).
Q6: Is being a disciple important in today’s culture or to one’s life?
A6: If the Bible is important, then discipleship is important. Of course, if the Bible is no longer valid, then discipleship is an outdated concept and a waste of time—so we might as well do whatever it takes to attract a big crowd and call it a church.
Q7: Who is responsible for making disciples?
A7: Every person who is a follower of Jesus—no matter how old, no matter how long they have been saved, no matter where they work. Every believer should be a disciple and every believer should make disciples—EVERY believer.
Those are my quick, off-the-cuff answers. If I had time to edit, I might change some of these answers, but I’m out of time.
Are you a disciple of Christ? Are you making disciples?