A Nine Part Series on Building the Kingdom through Relationships
Part 1 – Acquaintances
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus (John 12:20-22).
Philip was a disciple who brought people to Jesus. He brought Nathaniel to Jesus (John 1:45). And In this case, Greeks. In a broader sense, these men were likely no-Jews, not necessarily Greeks. Later on we read of Philip leading the eunuch to the Lord and baptizing him (Acts 8:26-40). As disciples of Jesus we are called to bring others to Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). The men were acquaintances of Philip; perhaps from the region of Galilee.
An effective ministry to men moves men from the community into a friendship.
Disciples must be open to opportunities to lead others to Christ, or into a closer walk with Christ. These opportunities may be men we encounter in our daily routine: co-workers, those whom we serve or who serve us, Friends and friends of friends. We need to move these men from being acquaintances to friendship.
The next step is to move the acquaintance from friendship into a relationship.
Disciples seek men to disciple.
Part 2 – Acceptance
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples (Matthew 9:9-10).
Jesus actions were entirely inappropriate. He was a Jew engaging in conversation with someone considered to be a traitor. That makes this is a compelling story. But Jesus goes a step further, He dines with Matthew and his sinner friends. Jesus placed no conditions on building a relationships. He called Matthew to be a disciple even though he had many rough edges. He was a disciple in the making.
An effective ministry to men moves men from a friendship into a relationship.
In making disciples we are cautioned not to let our judgment establish pre-conditions. We are to accept those who may be different; different to the point they have barnacles. We are to see possibilities not impossibilities. Acceptance draws men to the foot of the cross; not rejection. Acceptance ignites a desire to be a part of something bigger than they are. It creates interest.
Build on the connection by inviting the acquaintance to a meal. Go to events where he will feel safe. Discover where he is in his spiritual journey. These actions demonstrate acceptance. Is this man ready for the step of salvation? What obstacles lie in the way of that decision?
The next step is moving the friend into fellowship.
A Disciple sees others with the eyes of Jesus.
Part 3 - Affinity
For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people. ”So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (Luke 5:9-11).
While Jesus was a carpenter, His first disciples were fishermen. Later He added others like Matthew the tax collector to the group.
An effective ministry to men moves men from a relationship into fellowship.
It is hard to bring a group of diverse men together. It is best to begin by finding common ground around which the men can gather. After the group has coalesced, add others who may not share the same interests. Not only will the new men be attracted to the comradery, they will find genuine acceptance. In many cases the affinity may just be being a part of the group. That connection may only be the magnet of relationships with men who know Jesus.
Eventually the group will lead to an affinity based on relationships. The bonding occurs on the basis of acceptance. Affinity will grow out of acceptance.
The next step is to move a man from a relationship into relationships (plural).
A disciple seeks the bond that brings men together.
Part 4 – Affirmation
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven (Matthew 16:15-17).
Peter got it wrong so many times. But here he got it right and Jesus affirmed him; Jesus built him up.
An effective ministry to men moves men from fellowship into relationships (plural).
An important part of disciplemaking is encouraging men on their spiritual journey by finding their contribution to the group or your relationship. Yes, there will be times when they get it wrong. But it is vital to acknowledge progress in life, in relationships, in serving others; progress in getting it right.
We need to move men from fellowship into relationships (plural) by encouraging them and bonding with them.
The next step is to move the men from relationships (Plural) into discipleship.
A disciple looks for ways to build up others.
Part 5 - Access
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16)
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God (1 John 4:15).
We engage in disciplemaking because of God's command and His desire that all receive eternal life (Titus 2:4). He made this possible by dying once for all (Hebrews 9:12). We are to make disciples as we go (Matthew 28:19). A disciple makes disciples!
An effective disciplemaker presents the gospel.
As our relationship with a non-believer grows, our conversation needs to turn to matters of the Spirit. That conversation may begin with the awareness that eternal life involves standing before a Holy God who will not allow sin in His presence (Matthew 5:48). Second, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Third, the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Finally, It is by faith that we are saved not by our efforts (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Consider the alternative to eternal life: eternal death. We will spend eternity in heaven or hell. Hell is the place of eternal fire (Jude 1:7; Revelation 21:8; Matthew 13:50). That means that those who reject God’s saving grace through His Son Jesus Christ will endure an eternally horrific fire that burns but never consumes.
Looking In: Do you know key verses for leading someone to the Lord?
Looking Out: What is the temperature of the relationship with your mentee? What is the evidence that the person is ready for a discussion of salvation?
A disciple makes disciples.
Part Six - Assurance
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:11-13).
John’s resounding statement of faith is the capstone of salvation. Each believer must acknowledge that eternal life comes as a gift from God. Not something that is deserved or earned.
An effective disciplemaker moves a person from salvation to assurance of salvation.
It is great to be present when someone takes the step of faith and accepts Jesus as Savior. But the job is not done at that point. It is important that the new believer understand the decision they have made. They must acknowledge their step of faith. It is a matter of knowing that Jesus died for their sins and that they are now in the family of God.
Secondly, they need to give testimony to what they have done: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Looking In: Do you have assurance of your salvation?
Looking Out: Are professing believers around you assured of their faith? Do they know they have eternal life?
A disciple leads a new believer to assurance of salvation.
Part 7 - Accountability
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but of the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).
In this harsh rebuke, Jesus redirects Peter’s mindset from that of the world to that of the Heavenly Father. Peter needed to get his head on straight.
An effective disciplemaker moves a friend from relationships into a partnership
Becoming a disciple of Jesus involves the continuing process of adjusting one’s thinking from that of the world to that of the Lord’s. It is important to be in an accountability relationship; a relationship where there is an agreement to being reminded when attitudes, words, and behaviors are in conflict with our confession of faith; with the life we claim to be living. Clearly, not all accountability needs to be in the form of a harsh rebuke. In the process of discipling, take time to evaluate progress; highlighting what is good and what is not so good. It is best, also, to provide a biblical basis for critical comments. Let the Word do the refining.
If a man has taken a step of faith, he needs to be led to establish a solid foundation: Understanding God, man, Jesus, the Holy spirit, etc. There are many excellent resources for leading men into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Mentoring is the most effective method for developing a solid spiritual foundation. Discipling provides opportunities for accountability. Accountability provides a means for spiritual growth.
Looking In: Where is the Lord adjusting your thinking? Are you asking the Lord to adjust your thinking? Are you in an accountability relationship?
Looking Out: Are your men open to the Lord adjusting their thinking? Who needs accountability?
A disciple seeks an accountability relationship.
The next step is to move a person from discipleship into service.
Part 8 - Assist
He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; … (Mark 6:41).
Part of the process Jesus used in making disciples into disciplemakers was to engage them in service to others.
As disciples grow in the Lord they learn that they are empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out the tasks the Lord assigns. Discipleship involves Christ-centered service to others. For some it may mean serving outside of our gifting and comfort zone.
We need to move people from the comfort of the bleachers (observers) onto the playing field (ministry).
In salvation the focus is on me; me being in Christ. In discipleship the focus is on others.
Looking In: Do you focus on others?
Looking Out: Are you assisting someone in developing a focus on others?
A Disciple seeks opportunities to serve others.
The next step is to move a disciple into disciplemaking.
Part Nine - Make Disciples
After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He himself was about to go (Luke 10:1).
Jesus commissioned the seventy (some translations mention 72) with instructions on how they were to proceed as they entered the cities and places where He was going. Two things are important: He sent them out in in pairs and He prepared the way. We can either assume that Jesus eventually visited the towns and villages to which he sent the disciples or that the people of the towns and villages were prepared by His spirit.
Effective disciplemaking produces disciplemakers.
By engaging with others, disciples experience the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them. With that comes boldness and confidence in carrying out the command to make disciples. Jesus directed that they go out two by two. This for a number of reasons:
- The cultural edict of two witnesses
- Two sets of eyes and ears. One sees and hears that which the other may miss.
As disciples we live and work in the Spirit. It is the Spirit that prompts what to say and when to say it. Not every disciplemaker has the gift of evangelism, but every disciple is called to make disciples.
A disciple is a disciplemaker.
The next step is to establish a connection with those who need salvation or need become productive disciples. Start with acquaintances – step one.