Making disciple-making disciples (or making DMD’s) sounds redundant.
Yet, very few are actually doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 28:18-20. Instead, the commission to “make disciples” is often interpreted in one of two ways:
- Some “make disciples” by making converts and then outsourcing their “discipleship” to a church program.
- Others gather converts together and attempt to “go deeper” but place no emphasis on being a witness to their neighbor.
This is the danger of separating evangelism and discipleship. The former is engaged in evangelism, the latter is engaged in what he or she believes to be discipleship. Evangelism without discipleship isn’t evangelism. Disciple making without evangelism isn’t disciple making.
That’s why we need to recapture a true understanding of what it means to make disciples.
Discipleship Training or Transforming Disciples?
“Discipleship training” is usually a class that informs our knowledge of God but it doesn’t always encourage us to live for God.
Making DMD’s is a much more robust commitment to the spiritual transformation of another. When Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples, He was basically telling them to make disciple-making disciples. Just as Jesus invested in them, now they were to invest in others.
Matthew 28:20 was a charge to the disciples to teach more disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded (ie “Love God,” “Love people,” and, oh yeah, “Make disciples!”).
Paul also reminds us of this in 2 Timothy 2:2:
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Making DMD’s isn’t just about teaching, it’s about a lifestyle that invites others into your life. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ.” This goes beyond the important teaching aspect to the equally important but much more scary lifestyle of making disciples. Sermons, seminars, and classes need to be extra-curricular to the more risky and time consuming core curriculum of modeling a transformed life in front of others.
So what does it mean to “make disciple-making disciples”? The point of stating it redundantly is to emphasize the necessity of reproducibility.
Once you have the motivation for reproducible disciple making, the “how” becomes clearer. For example, in order for discipleship to be reproducible it can’t be left to the specialists and professionals.
Making DMDs is much broader and less specialized. It should be universal to all followers of Jesus. All who desire to follow Jesus will be compelled to share Jesus with others; mostly for their love for Him, but also because He commanded it. (So why do only 1 in 20 self-proclaimed Christians actually share the Gospel?)
Sadly, not everyone calling themselves Christians are truly making disciples who are making disciples.
Making disciples who reproduce themselves should be the goal of all activity that is labeled “discipleship”. It’s the responsibility of all followers of Jesus to be involved in making DMDs.
The seminary student might be studying Greek and translating passages of Scripture (a worthy and important activity) but must not forsake making DMDs.
An Administrative Pastor might be responsible for the finances and logistics of a church but he must also be involved in making DMDs.
A musician might do her best to learn the guitar and play it well for God’s glory but she must also make DMDs.
In the same way, a business person or a stay-at-home mom or a consultant must also be involved in making DMDs if they desire to follow Jesus.
This is our responsibility and our privilege!
Making DMDs goes beyond calling people to the least common denominator of devotion. Jesus’ call was to radical commitment, so why do we call people to a fraction of that commitment? Worse: why do church leaders often model a fraction of the devotion and commitment that should be inherent in the life of any Jesus follower.
It’s like we’re selling life insurance rather than showing someone how to live the transformed, vibrant, abundant life that Jesus offers. Jesus doesn’t offer life insurance, He offers a new life.
Making disciple-making disciples is about calling people to live that radical new life and walk along the Way with Jesus and inviting others to walk alongside. Christian, is that what you are doing?