The Desperate Need For Discipleship
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
And happy anniversary to Discipleship Journeys with Jesus!
The need for discipleship around the world is desperate and immense. In Jesus’ Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, there is only one grammatical command and it is to “make disciples.” Yet true discipleship is often missing in Christianity.
In his book The Great Omission, Dallas Willard expressed the problem in this way: “Churches are filled with ‘undiscipled disciples,’ as Jess Moody has called them. Of course there is in reality no such thing. Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have never decided to follow Christ.”
The need for discipleship creates major difficulties within Christianity, which those who are experienced in worldwide ministry are well aware of and greatly concerned about.
Dr. Marvin J. Newell is Senior Vice President of Missio Nexus, a network of evangelical mission agencies, churches and training centers. He described this desperate need for discipleship in this way:
The lack of genuine changed lives has become the greatest omission of the Great Commission the world over. All too often “proselytes” are made instead of “disciples.” When this happens, churches get filled with bodies that exhibit little evidence of changed beliefs and behaviors.
This results in spiritually apathetic adherents who quickly deteriorate into dysfunctional gatherings or nominal Christianity. They easily become victims of aberrant doctrine, heresy and deviant cults. Although they wear the label “Christian” many are not Christ-followers at all. They are superficial followers of “the way” in need of a genuine conversion experience. This sad state has become the bane of the Church the world over. Superficial conversions and inflated statistics only promote non-authentic outcomes.
To address this distressing need for discipleship, we launched Discipleship Journeys with Jesus(DJJ) in September of 2016, two years ago this month. Our vision is to help provide a clear process of discipleship, especially for the half billion Christians in the Global South who often lack any discipleship materials in their language.
Our DJJ mission statement reads:
“This mission exists to disciple people in actionable, biblical wisdom.”
But this is not just a global issue. It is a personal issue for all believers. The need for discipleship begins with each of us who claim to be a Christian. It begins with our own discipleship and our discipleship of others.
Here are 3 reasons you should walk through the Discipleship Journeys with Jesus lessons:
Where would you honestly rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 spiritually? Are you a 3, a 5 a 10?
My guess is you’re probably not a 10—there just aren’t many 10’s around.
So, if you’re not a 10, are you satisfied with where you are, and more importantly, is God happy with where you are? Jesus said,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV)
When Jesus said “take up his cross and follow me” he pictured total commitment. Gain the world but lose your soul–forget it! Lose your life and you’ll save it—yes!
The free lessons from Discipleship Journeys with Jesus can take you on the journey you’ve always wanted to take—a journey to intimacy with Jesus.
Even if you’re a perfect ten in your walk, others around you are not. Will you help them become true disciples?
The actual command of the Great Commission is NOT “be a disciple.” It’s “make disciples.” Are you making disciples? If you want to be a perfect 10 as a disciple, this is a command of Christ you cannot skip.
For those who think, “I’m nowhere close to a 10, in fact I don’t know if I’m capable, I have some problems.” Oftentimes we think we cannot be a discipler because:
We don’t have all the answers.
We’re not perfect enough.
No one has “all the answers.” And actually, the answers to questions in the lessons come right from the biblical text. If you can read, you can answer the questions. If you are thinking of other questions that might be asked, don’t worry, Google has all the answers, or just ask Siri or Alexa. Seriously, there are others who have the answers. No one has all the answers. If you know a little more than someone else, disciple them!
No one is “perfect.” If you think you’re not perfect enough, that too is not necessarily a reason to avoid discipling others. The original disciples were far from perfect. In fact, every one of them abandoned Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter even denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted. Here’s a better question: Are you willing to pick yourself up again when you fail and keep seeking to follow Jesus? And are you willing to grow? If so, you’re ready to be a disciple-maker.
Not only will your disciples grow as you lead them on the journeys, you will grow, perhaps more than they do!
And don’t worry, the lessons work well for people of any culture or educational level.
Discipleship Journeys with Jesus has taken the complexity out of making disciples. It is a simple way to meet the desperate need for discipleship. Anyone can do it—all you have to do is:
Read a question from the lesson
Read the Bible
Answer the question from the Bible
Then the only thing left is to obey what you’ve learned.
Furthermore, we’ve made Discipleship Journeys with Jesus as compelling as we know how:
It’s free of charge!
Each lesson includes 2 videos recorded on location in the Bible Lands. We did these so people can see the sites of the journeys.
The journeys are a clear, pathway to Christian maturity.
However, a word of warning: While we’ve made the pathway of disciple-making easy, being a disciple is not necessarily easy. In fact, every Christian will be challenged by the journey lessons. They’re not just for baby believers. Long-time believers will grow deeper in their walk with Jesus.
It has been said that discipleship is “a long obedience in the same direction.” It doesn’t happen overnight. And discipleship doesn’t happen without obedience, a long obedience in the same direction.
However, the rewards are out of this world. As Jesus said in the passage above, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25 ESV)
So, what’s your next step? I implore you to:
2. Find someone (or several people) to go through the lessons with you. It could be your spouse, a friend, your child, your family, a group of men or women, your grandchild, your Sunday School class, a lunch group at your work and so on.
You won’t do anything more important in your lifetime than to become a fully-devoted disciple of Jesus and help others do the same.
The need for discipleship is immense, but we have an answer. Please check out the lessons at www.djjministry.org
And, if you’re not sure you are indeed a Christian, please go HERE to learn how to be saved now.
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Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
Podcast: What’s the value of 1 to 1 discipleship?
Quote card: He is no fool who gives what he cannot lose…
Quote card: Spurgeon on Being a Missionary