THE ART OF DISCIPLESHIP
Pastor Carl Catalanotto
The Tabernacle, Louisiana
The art of discipleship is the fulfillment of Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV).
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘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 surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’"
Discipleship can mean many different things among church leaders. But the proof of any biblical truth is in the fruit or result of the teaching. Classroom teaching on discipleship can only produce results if what is being taught goes out from the classroom into a lost and dying world.
God has gifted the church with five-fold ministry which should, with proper exposure, help develop the art of discipleship in any local congregation. The art of discipleship must and should start at the top, which is the lead pastor. If the lead pastor is not making a disciple of the person to replace him in the future of the church, the art of discipleship is not being displayed.
Every leadership position in the church must be displaying the spirit of making disciples. If the leaders are not actively involved in this art, it’s sending the wrong message. As a lead pastor, we cannot expect the people in our congregation to do something we ourselves are not willing to do.
As the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV), “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.” Discipleship must be the vision and main purpose of our ministry. Not only seeing the lost saved, but seeing them develop into a disciple of Christ who will, in turn, do the same for others as that which was done to them.
The art of discipleship is not addition, but multiplication. Multiplication is done rapidly in small groups where disciples can have the opportunity and vision to make disciples themselves. Disciples are not produced through Sunday services, but with one-on-one ministry in a small group setting. The largest churches and the fastest growing churches in the world are small group churches.
Every church should have a discipleship tract in place for new converts. Churches can teach discipleship, but if we don’t create a wineskin or environment for them to exercise their skills, then we are teaching in vain. It’s like teaching a person how to drive a car, but they never get a chance to get on the road in the driver’s seat. It’s the only way they will be able to experience what they have learned. Skill is developed as they get the experience behind the wheel.
New disciples might not do everything right at first, but with commitment and persistence, they will mature. Maturity comes when they are allowed to put their hands to the plow.
Discipleship is the key to church growth both numerically and spiritually. The art of discipleship is the spirit of the Great Commission, and it should be the spirit that permeates our congregation to the glory of God.