Image for Can ANY Christian Become a Disciple Maker?

Can ANY Christian Become a Disciple Maker?

Photo of Bobby HarringtonBobby Harrington | Bio

Bobby Harrington

Bobby is the point-leader of and, both collaborative, disciple-making organizations. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has an M.A.R. and an M.Div. from Harding School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 10 books on discipleship, including Discipleshift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman), The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick) and Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making (with Greg Weins). He lives in the greater Nashville area with his wife and near his children and grandchildren.

As we look at those who made disciples in the New Testament, it’s clear that disciple making isn’t limited to certain personality types, careers, callings, or ages. We don’t really know the variety of vocations and personality types in the New Testament, but we know that:

  • Peter—was outspoken and impulsive.
  • Barnabas— was warm and accepting.
  • Lydia— was a risk taker and hospitable.
  • Paul— was dominant and direct.
  • Timothy—was withdrawn and reserved.
  • Mary— was busy and meticulous.
  • Apollos— was studious and reflective.
  • Titus— was organized and strategic.
  • Thomas— was skeptical and detailed.
  • Luke— was educated and analytical.

So often today, people qualify certain personality traits, saying that those who have those traits are better than others at making disciples. This is a lie from the evil one. The enemy of our soul would like nothing better than to convince you that you can’t make disciples because __________ (you fill in the blank). Many of us have rehearsed tapes of why we we’re not that good at making disciples. Too often, we put up objections and excuses in an attempt to explain that God can’t use us to make disciples of others.

Before we go any further, let’s first establish the point that you aren’t the one making a disciple.

In John 14:16, Jesus is pretty clear that disciple making is the role of the Spirit who does the transforming work within someone. Only through the power and presence of the indwelling Spirit does God use us to impact another. We’re simply partnering with him in the process. God could surely make disciples without us (he is God), but for our benefit, he has chosen us to walk beside him in the process of transforming a life. . . .

[The Holy Spirit] takes our obedience and uses it to do his work. He works in unfathomable ways unbeknownst to us. In the quiet corners of homes and hearts, the Spirit does his transformational work. Don’t think that God’s ability to work through you is limited to your personality or position. Most often, he will work through or around these. . . .

It doesn’t matter what your gifts are; you’re called to make disciples. The challenge will be different for each of us. We guarantee that regardless of your position, gifts, education or stage in life, you will struggle with prioritizing your life to make disciples and not just do church work. But you can do it!

For example, pastors of large churches will struggle with setting priorities over the long term to continue pouring into leaders to make disciples.

There is a great temptation to only disciple those who can benefit the church whom you serve. We know. We’ve been there. But often, leaders who become disciples of Jesus who then make disciples will be called of God to do that elsewhere. Think of Barnabas and Paul (Acts 13). If and when that happens, we must release these leaders to such places. This is multiplication. We’re not just planting churches or sites, but rather, discipling people who can make disciples of others who can then lead churches in multiplication.

The goal of multiplying churches isn’t simply having more institutional churches on the corners of our communities, but rather to have more bodies of Christ that are committed to, and are practicing, disciple making.

Are you discipling people who have the time and interest in making disciples of Christ? That is effective multiplication. . . .

Try reading Acts and the Epistles through the eyes of Paul. He poured into a large number of men and women, yet most left him to be involved in other ministries. Some had conflict with him; some turned on and even hurt him. At the end of his life, in the last chapter of 2 Timothy, Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark and to come to him. We don’t know if they ever made it to Paul, but it’s no surprise that during his final days on earth, Paul would want to be with those he had invested in and in whom he had multiplied himself. This kind of reminds us of Matthew 28 when Jesus called his disciples to himself.

Making disciples of individuals is not an easy endeavor; nothing that changes this world ever is.  

(Excerpted from Bobby Harrington & Greg Wiens, Becoming a Disciple Maker: the Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making. 2017. Used with permission.)