A Life Worth Imitating: Developing a Culture of Discipleship

imitatingJesus’ agenda was always discipleship. His vision for the church is to make disciples.

Matthew 28:18-20 – “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Everything we do and say within ministry begins and ends with where we are at in Christ. As mentors and as followers of Christ – our main focus and responsibility must be found in listening to what God is saying to us.

How are you a) creating space in your own life to hear from God and b) responding with obedience? Let me take a couple of minutes to lay this out in a couple of diagrams

Kairos Moment Diagram


As ministry leaders, we constantly have people coming to us for advice, wisdom, and direction. Are we feeding them great moral knowledge or are we speaking the truth and love of Jesus into their lives? As leaders, we must be slow to speak, quick to listen, and always praying!

As of today, where is your own personal relationship with Christ? If you had to rate it on scale of 1-10, what would you say? Are you creating space to truly hear from God each and every day? We must also never lose sight of how Jesus carried out ministry. He constantly used both invitation and challenge to draw people to Himself. Here is what I mean by that…

Invitation/Challenge Diagram


Instead of emphasizing either invitation or challenge, we need to calibrate both in order to develop a discipling culture. In this kind of culture, learners feel welcomed and gain a sense of belonging from invitation, and they also grow because they are challenged when it’s appropriate and necessary.

How are you in terms of invitation and challenge? Here are a few evaluation questions: Are the people I’m leading too cozy? If so, what are the first steps of challenge that I need to begin to introduce? Are the people I’m leading too stressed? If so, what steps can I take to add invitation into these relationships?

The invitation from Jesus is not to become a Christian; instead it is about becoming a disciple! Jesus’ invitation was a call to enter into a relationship with Him. His challenge was to go and make disciples of all nations. Do the way you live your life and the way we carry out our ministry reflect the way Jesus did ministry?

In Matthew 16:13-28 we see the idea of invitation and challenge laid out very clearly through the life of Peter. Jesus begins by asking Peter, ‘Who do you say I am?’ He goes on to invite Peter into this incredible opportunity of leadership.

Matthew 16:18-20 – “18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”

But the story doesn’t end there. Peter goes from being the one who was going to help build God’s Kingdom to being referred to as Satan! Jesus looks at Peter and says, ‘Yes, I am going to invite you to do great things, but man is it going to be difficult!  The task is not easy and the challenge is extreme!’

Matthew 16:24-28 – “24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Jesus never missed the power of a challenge! 

I believe we have done a very good job at the invitation piece within ministry, but many of us struggle with the challenge aspect. My prayer is that we are not only inviting people into community, but also challenging them to live out a deep relationship with Christ. For some of us, that change must start right here and right now! We cannot change and impact those around us if we ourselves are not in a growing relationship with Christ! What are you doing to become more like Christ on a daily, weekly, monthly basis? Does your life reflect more of who Christ is today than it did a few weeks or months ago?

For the most part, the people within our church will struggle to pass our spiritual threshold. In other words, as leaders and mentors, we help set the ceiling of spiritual formation and discipleship within the ministry! If we are not doing everything we can to grow closer to Christ on a daily basis, then why would our students ever see the need to?

Let me wrap up with this question… Do you have a life worth imitating? Is there somebody that will succeed me and do something even greater than I have done? Who is your Timothy? Are we passing on the character and competency of Christ? We must realize there is more at stake than just an increase in numbers!

For more on how to build a discipling culture head to www.weare3d.com, where you will find these diagrams and much more!