Thursday, 07 April 2011 13:40

Are We Making Disciples?

Written by  Dr. Lawrence H. Phillips
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The resurrected Jesus, in Matthew 28:19, said “As you go, make disciples…” Two questions come to mind. 1. How well is the church making disciples? 2. How do we know if a disciple is made?


People who know that our church is an evangelistic church often ask the question: “How are you at making disciples?” I was blessed to be a part of Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion ministry while he was alive. For several years our handful of international teachers would meet in Boca Raton, Florida each January. This Presbyterian Pastor probably taught me as much about evangelism and discipleship as anyone outside the Bible.

Understanding the connection between the two begins with Jesus.

Jesus began His ministry by calling Andrew and Peter and instructing them to follow Him and He would make them “to become fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). After He rose He told His followers that He wanted them to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) and explained that baptizing them (as new believers) and teaching them to obey His commands was crucial. Just before He left them to ascend to the Father He gave the final reminder that His Holy Spirit would come and that they, His followers, would be witnesses (Acts 1:8).

It has been said that the first and last words spoken are the ones we want remembered most. Jesus begins and ends His ministry with the passionate call for Christians to be reproducers.

Discipleship is important, but what did Jesus see as the end of discipleship? Clearly, Jesus taught that disciples are born to reproduce other disciples. The end of discipleship is for one to be a witness to Jesus.

Christian men become better men of God so that lost men will want the Jesus who lives in us. Christian women are discipled to become women of God so that unsaved women will want Jesus to be their Lord. Couples grow to have godly marriages so they can share with troubled families how Jesus can turn their trials into triumphs. Our Christian walk is not an exercise in social advancement, but Kingdom multiplication. Every area of discipleship should help us to apply the principles of scripture so that we have credibility when we share our faith.

One must conclude that churches which are consistent leaders in evangelism are also leaders in discipleship. It would seem to contradict Jesus to say we can be passionate about discipleship but not about evangelism. Many people want to disciple believers, but they often are discipling believers that others have reached. Most small group leaders inherit other people’s converts rather than building their groups from the lost and unchurched. I know what that is like. I inherited four churches to pastor until God led me to start a church in Montgomery.

The process of discipling is often less precise than some like and more prevalent than many have taken time to notice. Sadly, some miss the fact that when we are reaching people with the good news about Jesus it is not just the church that is growing, the Kingdom is also growing.

One must conclude that consistently evangelistic churches are making disciples. When evangelism is the culture of the congregation we know that the church is making disciples. When discipleship is prevalent it will produce the outcome Jesus desired as He gave His first and last commands; souls.
No sports team or church will ever be victorious by staying in the huddle. As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, remember that as He was ascending, the disciples were huddling. After being challenged by the two men in white they broke the huddle, went to their prayer room, emerged as witnesses and began to build the church. Let us do likewise.

Dr. Lawrence H. Phipps is Senior Pastor at Vaughn Forest Church, in Montgomery. Find out more at

Last modified on Thursday, 07 April 2011 13:44
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