Disciple-Making Field Manual: Discipleship Defined


Disciples are those who are following Jesus in order to be changed by Jesus so that others will want to follow them following Him.

Bobby Harrington defines disciple-making as “following Jesus, being changed by Jesus and doing the mission of Jesus.” It is learning through watching; allowing yourself to be transformed from the inside out so that in three years time you will notice significant changes in your relationships, spiritual life, physical and emotional self. Finally, you will discover you are naturally doing what Jesus did—loving others and loving God.

In most churches, however, “discipleship” is a junk drawer term where pastors lump together Sunday School classes, small group training, mentoring, youth ministry…anything that is about information transfer. Biblically speaking, however, disciple-making is about sharing life-on-life that causes us to live differently.

A nominal Christian—a Christian in name only—is someone who overlays religious practices (like going to worship, or attending a Sunday school class, or tithing) with a lifestyle they have already chosen to live. A disciple—however—is seeking to learn a new a way of living. It is someone who is experiencing continual transformation. The result is an attitude of followership that invites others to follow us following Him.

Therefore, discipleship is about growing a dependence upon Jesus Christ. The mark of success in our culture is independence, which we code with words like efficient, productive and self-reliant. Discipleship, however, is about surrendering our desires in order to follow someone else. This is why Jesus begins discipleship with the Great Invitation of John 1:39…but His great invitation ultimately results in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:20. It can be summed up this way:

“Come and See” in order to “Go and Be”

Therefore, in scripture a disciple is not only a follower of Jesus, but also one who is deployed in order to help others find their way back to God. They are people who obey the great invitation and commission of Jesus:

The eight characteristics and four inputs mentioned previously can be consolidated into the four marks of being an effective disciple:

Come and See

  • Spend time with God
  • Grow as a Follower

Go and Be

  • Build Relationships with Others
  • Invest in the Hurting and Lost

As you continue through this field manual, continue to refer to these four marks of a disciple. These are the objectives you want to focus on when making your action steps. Each week, these will be the “in order to” objectives that you will accomplish through specific, simple and personalized strategies. Below is an example of a simple one…now Go and Be.

Questions for Reflection

• Who are people you follow and why?
• What mark of discipleship are you missing?

Action Step

  • In order to–become a disciple who makes disciples
  • My next step is–to write down my own one sentence definition of “Disciple” that is easy to explain to a 9 year old.
  • I will do it–RIGHT NOW!

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