Top 10 Things I Need to Know about Discipleship

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I don't know about you, but I need to be reminded about certain things on a regular basis. As I think through discipleship, here's my current list of things I need to know:

  1. It takes a disciple to make a disciple. While I sometimes argue that anyone can host a small group (even a non-Christian), only a disciple can make a disciple.
  2. Real disciples make disciples. I think this is an important distinction. It means that if you're not actively making disciples, you probably aren't a disciple.
  3. Disciples are rarely made in rows. From an environmental angle, a disciple is far more likely to made in a circle. After all, becoming a disciple has far less to do with digesting information (like in a class) and far more to do with spending time with those who are becoming like Him.
  4. You don't have to arrive before you begin making disciples (see Philippians 3:12-14 if you don't believe me).
  5. You don't have to use printed curriculum to make disciples. The early disciples made it happen even before they had the New Testament.
  6. You don't become a disciple by completing a course or curriculum. While some studies might be better at generating the kinds of conversations that open eyes and soften hearts, completing a study or a course isn't like completing a degree program that qualifies you to use a title or certain letters after your name (like Reverend or Phd).
  7. Completing a course or curriculum also doesn't make you disciple maker. You might earn a credential, but what makes you a disciple maker is that you're actually making disciples.
  8. Disciple-making takes time. You can't microwave a disciple. The process won't be hurried. A real disciple is always becoming more like Jesus. It's what gives the disciple-maker the opportunity to say, "here's what the Lord is showing me right now."
  9. Like the servants in Matthew 25, every one of us is given opportunity to invest in others, "according to our ability."
  10. "Make disciples" was Jesus' final command. It was His marching orders to His disciples. It isn't optional or reserved for those with the credential. It is a command for all of us.
By the way, these are the top 10 things I need to know about discipleship. Are they yours? Maybe. You may need to develop your own list.

What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Margaret on September 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    love your phrase: “you can’t microwave a disciple.” With our fast pace world we can easily give up before seeing all the results–we need to hang in there!

  2. markchowell on September 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    We give up way too soon! Thanks Margaret!


  3. Will Lee on October 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

    One of my favorites: “Disciples are rarely made in rows.” We’ve been pursuing a row-less discipleship strategy at our church, and moving from rows to groups was a crucial step for us!

  4. markchowell on October 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Thanks Will! Keep pursuing it!


  5. Scott Burns on December 26, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I love these. For me, I think I’d include something like “Disciple makers embrace failure”. I think I’ve been too quick to write people off when they mess up, and I’ve been in discipling environments were the benchmark and expectations for perfection are so high that people are scare to try anything in case they get it wrong. Embracing people when they fail and learning/growing from failure is so important.

  6. markchowell on December 27, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Love it, Scott! I’d fit the “embrace failure” idea into #8, Disciple-Making takes time. That’s a good insight, though. It can’t be rushed.

    Thanks for jumping in here!


  7. A. Amos Love on December 29, 2012 at 9:47 am

    At Church Leaders you ask – “Want to argue” come to this site.

    Well – You say – “It takes a disciple to make a disciple.”

    But – I can NOT find one of “His Disciples” in the scriptures,
    making a “Disciple of Christ” or training disciples.

    Are there any examples, in the Bible, of someone making a “Disciple of Christ?”
    And how they did it?

    And, don’t know if you ever noticed…
    But – Paul, with all the instructions in his epistles to the ekklesia of God…
    Paul never mentions disciples, discipleship, or discipleship training.

    Neither does James, John, Peter, or anyone, in the NT epistles,
    mention disciples, discipleship, or discipleship training.

    Seems Jesus is the only one recorded making disciples and…
    With all the books, seminars and conferences about making disciples…
    All I’ve ever witnessed and been a part of is…

    1 – Man making disciples of “Their Denomination,”

    Baptists making disciples of Baptist beliefs.
    Lutherans making disciples of Lutheran beliefs.
    Assembly of God making disciples of Assembly of God beliefs. Etc. etc…

    NOT making “Disciples of Christ.” Learners and pupils of Jesus.

    2 – Man making disciples of “Their Movement,”

    Evangelicals making disciples of Evangelicalism.
    Pentecostals making disciples of Pentecostalism.
    Fundamentalists making disciples of Fundamentalism.

    NOT making “Disciples of Christ.” Those who learn directly from Jesus.

    3 – And Man making disciples after “Themselves.”

    Acts 20:30
    Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things,
    to draw away *disciples after them.*

    In my experience…
    Jesus is the only one who can make a “Disciple of Christ.”

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  8. markchowell on December 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I always appreciate a good dialogue. And I appreciate you jumping in Amos. At the same time, I think your line of thinking misses the kernel right at the heart of the discussion. “Disciple” at its essence means follower or learner. Did Jesus’ disciples make disciples? Absolutely. Did Paul? Totally. Did they call it that? Not important…at least in my opinion. What mattered and what matters is that we are making followers of Jesus.


  9. A. Amos Love on January 1, 2013 at 9:15 am


    Thanks for the response. You end your reply with…
    “what matters is that we are making followers of Jesus.”

    From what I see in the Bible there is a “big difference” between
    “followers of Jesus” and a follower being one of “His Disciples.”

    ALL His Disciples did “Follow Jesus” – But…
    NOT ALL who “Followed Jesus” were “His Disciples.”

    Disciple in the Strong’s is #3101 mathetes – A learner, pupil.
    “His Disciples” 2,000 years ago learned directly from Jesus.
    And – Jesus, is the same, Yesterday, and Today, and Forever.

    How many today “learn” from Jesus directly? NO middle man? 😉

    Many can “follow” Jesus at a distance, and even walk on the same path,
    but are they “learning” directly from Jesus? NO middle man? 😉

    Or are they ”learning about him” from a another “Mere Fallible Human?”
    Or “learning” from others on the same path? Who learned from others?

    Jesus always spoke to the multitudes “who followed” in parables. – BUT…
    When Jesus was “alone” with His Disciples He explained the parable.

    All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables;
    and without a parable spake he not unto them.
    Matthew 13:34

    and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.
    Mark 4:33

    These multitudes were all in the same location following Jesus?
    But only “His Disciples, His pupils, learned” what Jesus meant.

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God.

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to “hear His voice,”
    that *He might instruct thee:*

    Seems to be two different things.

    1 – “Making “Followers of Jesus.”

    2 – “Making “Learners, Pupils of Jesus” – Making “Disciples of Jesus.”

    And – I find NO place in the scriptures where one of “His Disciples”

    was able to “Make a Disciple of Jesus” and how they did it.

  10. A. Amos Love on January 1, 2013 at 9:51 am


    These few verses alone convicts me that…
    I can NOT make a “Disciple of Jesus.” 🙂

    When I thought I was “making disciples”
    as I was taught by those who called themselves “Leaders,”
    all I accomplished was making a
    disciple of Amos and what Amos believed.

    Never made a “Disciple of Christ.”
    A learner, pupil, learning directly from Jesus.

    Matthew 16:24-25
    Then said Jesus unto **his disciples,**
    If any man will come after me,
    let him **deny himself,**
    and take up his cross, and follow me.
    For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and
    whosoever will *lose his life for my sake* shall find it.

    Luke 14:33
    So likewise, whosoever he be of you
    *that forsaketh NOT ALL that he hath,**
    he can NOT be my disciple.

    These few verses alone convicts me that
    I can NOT make a “Disciple of Christ.” 🙂

    Never figured out…
    How do you get someone to “Deny Themself?” 🙁
    How do you get someone to “Lose their life for Jesus’ sake?”
    How do you get someone to “Forsake All?” 🙁

    How many today – Who call themselves “Disciples of Jesus?”
    Can – “learn” from Jesus directly? NO middle man? 😉

    And – “Deny Them self?”
    And – “Lose their Life for Jesus’ sake?”
    And – “Forsake ALL?”

    Forsake ALL…
    Power – Profit – Prestige – Titles – Positions – Glory – Reputation?

    Seems this – being one of “His Disciples” – will cost you. – A Lot.

    Yup – IMO – Being a “Disciple of Jesus” is way more
    then being a “Follower.”

  11. C, G on January 1, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Mathew 28:19, acts 14:21, John 4:1, luke 5:33, 19, 20:1.

  12. markchowell on January 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Amos…I do appreciate the thought you’ve put into your comments. You make some good points in many instances. I really think you’re splitting hairs in others.

    Are all who call themselves “Christians”(for example, on a survey) a disciple of Jesus? Absolutely not. We agree. Are many church attendees, who would call themselves a Christian, really in the same category as those who turned away when the teaching became “too difficult?” Absolutely. We agree.

    Did Jesus’ disciples make disciples? Absolutely. In every case? No. Did they do it perfectly? No. Was Timothy a disciple? Yes. Did John make disciples in Ephesus? Yes. Did Peter make disciples? He was writing to people who knew him. On the idea that only Christ made disciples, I think you are splitting hairs.

    I love conversation here and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think you’ve stated yours very well. Although we differ, thanks for jumping in here.


  13. markchowell on January 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Thanks C.G. You’ve referenced several of the passages I cite when I’m talking about the priority of disciple-making.


  14. A. Amos Love on January 2, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Mark and C, G

    Mark – Thanks for allowing the conversation.
    For me it is much more then splitting hairs. It’s about “Traditions.”
    Jesus warns us about “Traditions” that make Void God’s word. Mk 7:13
    And what I was taught turned out to be “Traditions” NOT in the Bible.

    Making Disciples is NOT mentioned in any of the epistles. Hmmm?
    None of “His Disciples” talked about it. Or, taught how to do it.

    C, G mentions Mat 28:19 “Go and make disciples” – But…
    In my experience, many today, “Ignore” or “Twist” the next verse.

    Mat 28:20 NKJV
    **teaching them to “observe” all things that I have commanded you**

    Seems Jesus, commanded His Disciples, NOT to be called “Leader.”
    For “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ. Mat 28:20 NASB.

    And – NOT one of His Disciples called them self – “Leader.”
    NOT one of His Disciples called another “Disciple” – “Leader.”

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    In the Bible, NOT one of His Disciples called them self – “Leader.”
    ALL of “His Disciples” called themselves “Servants.” 😉

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    How many today, (who say they are “Making Disciples,”)
    Will Teach what Jesus commanded His Disciples?

    “Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ?”
    My Sheep – Hear My Voice – and – Follow Me. John 10:27.

    Jesus never taught His Disciples to follow “mere fallible humans.”
    Jesus always taught His Disciples to “Follow Him – Jesus.”
    Mt 4:19, Mt 19:21, Mr 6:1, Mr 10:21, Lk 5:27, Lk 18:22, etc…

    If someone calls them self “Leader?”
    Allows others to call them “Leader?’

    Are they one of “His Disciples?”

    Why isn’t what Jesus taught “His Disciples” important? 🙂

  15. Shane on January 2, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Loved the article and it has given me much food for thought. I would like to see a follow up article from the point of view of the disciple looking for a mentor. Many times we would mentor but don’t recognize those who are looking. Thanks and look forward to seeing it soon.

  16. markchowell on January 2, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Amos…thanks for your input.

    A final thought…you may want to consider starting a blog! You’ve got a lot to say and are opinionated enough to generate discussion.


  17. markchowell on January 2, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Thanks Shane! That’s an interesting angle for an article. Thanks for the suggestion!


  18. A. Amos Love on January 2, 2013 at 7:33 am


    Nice talking to you in the moment – Thanks for the suggestion.

    I was ready to post this when I noticed your comment.
    I hope you will want to continue this conversation.
    There is lots of stuff Jesus taught His Disciples that is “Ignored” today.
    Those who still believe they can make a disciple today…

    Should at least teach what Jesus taught His Disciples – Yes?


    Jesus also taught “His Disciples” NOT to be called Teacher. Hmmm?
    Jesus taught – “ONE” is your Teacher… Mat 23:8. Hmmm? Jesus also taught…
    Your Teacher is God, and the Father, and the Son, and the HOLY Spirit.

    1 – NOT to be called teacher for you have “ONE” teacher, Christ. Mt 23:8
    2 – NOT to be called leader for you have “ONE” leader, Christ, Mt 23:10
    3 – ALL shall be taught of God. Jn 6:45
    4 – ALL things, shall be taught you by the Holy Spirit, God. Jn 14:26
    5 – ALL truth, will come as the Spirit of truth guides and leads. Jn 16:13
    6 – Jesus, as man, does nothing of himself, and is taught of God. Jn 8:28
    7 – Peter, knowing Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God,
    received the revelation from Father God, and NOT from man. Mt 16:17
    Jesus, as man, gave “All” the glory, all the credit to God the Father.

    John the apostle, a “Disciple of Christ” taught what Jesus taught.

    1 – ALL know, discern, all things. From the anointing in you. 1 Jn 2:20
    2 – You need not any man teach you. Some will seduce you. 1 Jn 2:26-27
    3 – ALL things, are taught to you by the anointing. 1 Jn 2:27

    Paul the apostle, a “Disciple of Christ” taught what Jesus taught.

    1- The gospel, NOT taught to me by man, but by revelation. Ga 1:11-12
    2 – I conferred NOT with flesh and blood. Ga 1:16
    3 – You have heard Jesus, and have been taught by Jesus. Eph 4:21
    4 – You are taught by God to love one another. 1 Thes 4:9
    5 – When together, all can teach, all can get revelation. 1 Cor 14:26
    6 – Be led by the Spirit of God, and be a son of God. Rm 8:14

    How many today, (who say they are “Making Disciples,”)
    Teach what Jesus commanded His Disciples?
    “ONE” is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Mat 23:8 NASB.

    Teach what His Disciples taught?
    You need not any man teach you. Some will seduce you. 1 Jn 2:26-27

    In my experience, most today “Ignore” or “Twist” what Jesus taught.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader – One Teacher

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}