What If We Did Spiritual Formation Like Jesus?

Thursday is for Discipleship

How Did Jesus Make Disciples? I think we can see the outlines of the process in the pages of the gospels. The term I use to describe that process is “intentional withness.” There was a “with me” quality to Jesus’ interaction and training of the disciples. Jesus choose them, then spent no more than 3-4 years with them. During that time not once did he have a seminar on preaching, or prayer, or discipleship, or evangelism. Instead, his training and equipping of his disciples seemed to be heavy on the following elements:

  1. He lived with them. (Woke, ate, walked, rested, slept—everything.) The opportunity for long term impact in such a context is immense. Why are retreats, and camps, and mission trips so effective? Answer: When you are with people 24/7 all the junk or internal depth of your life comes out. Jesus’ boys saw the reality of his walk with God and the result was an intoxicating desire to follow him.
  2. He conversed with them. We see snippets of this in the gospels but couple your imagination with the Hebraic teaching that most likely was the backdrop of Jesus’ model, namely Deut. 6:4-9.  If Jesus is following the model of Deuteronomy with his disciples—sitting in a house, when they walked along the way, when they lay down at night, when they rise in the morning and talking theology and kingdom—wow—they got one great theological education.
  3. He modeled for them. Jesus preached everywhere. He prayed all the time, sometimes all night. And everywhere he goes they are watching. I have learned a lot of things watching other people do stuff. They saw his tireless service and compassion. They heard how he confounded his questioners with questions, over and over again. There are things we can’t learn by watching, but there is a lot that we can. Consistent modeling is a neglected element in most of our Western education and discipling models.
  4. He gave them responsibility. First it was simple: get the people to sit, collect baskets of bread, collect baskets of fish, go get food, keep the common purse, but one day, seemingly out of the blue, he pairs up 72 of his followers and sends them out to do what they had seen him do. It is stunning in its abruptness but also in its wonderful effects! (Cf. Luke 10:1-20)
  5. He left them. He entrusted the ministry to them and sent the Holy Spirit to empower them. Men and women never really take full responsibility for delegated authority until the delegator leaves. He promised them the help of the Holy Spirit and then he left. The baton had to be passed and it was passed by Jesus leaving them and continuing his work of intercession at the Father’s side.

There is more that we could examine but that’s start. The more we can find ways to work these five principles into our disciple making philosophy and methods, the more like Jesus we will be and the more like Jesus they will become.

Question: How do we get more “with me” time with those who we are forming into Christlikeness?

Revised repost.

2 thoughts on “What If We Did Spiritual Formation Like Jesus?

  1. I concur totally Pastor. I myself am a product of this type of discipleship before I came to faith and afterwards. The first experience lasted exactly 2 years, the second discipleship experience lasted 6 years. I would love to sit down and pick your brain on this because you are the only Pastor I knew that was being intentional about making disciples using the Multiplication Ministries material. Robert Coleman’s Masters Plan of Evangelism, has a similar methodology as you’ve outlined. But the idea that all an individual needs is to be born again and not grow is a sad commentary to me. I am commanded by Jesus to make disciples, it is not optional.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gilbert, I’m sure I’m not the only one being faithful to such a plan but I would love to sit down and talk about being intentional in our disciple making. Just give a call and set it up. Coleman’s book is a classic


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