Anyone can see the number of oranges on a tree. Only a few can see the number of trees that can be produced from the seeds in an orange. When you look at a person, do you see beyond his or her outer appearance what that person can become? Jesus saw beyond the weaknesses of Peter and called him a rock. Barnabas continued to help John Mark even though he failed on his missionary journey with Paul. John Mark wrote the first gospel – the Gospel of Mark. You, too, can help disciples develop into disciple-makers.
I will draw a picture that will give you an understanding of the discipline process. It is called Master Builder. You will learn the steps in the growth of a person from the time he becomes a Christian until he develops into a co-laborer. You will see your role as a disciple and understand the tasks you need to do. You will understand the responsibility you have and the responsibility the person with whom you work has at each step of his growth.
As I draw the MasterBuilder picture, you will draw the same picture on a page in your notebooks. I will tell you what to draw as we proceed. Now turn in your bibles to the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians. I shall read some verses from these chapters as I draw the MasterBuilder picture.
Every person is an unbeliever before he becomes a disciple of Christ. (Write UNBELIEVER on the first part of the road’.) The first task of the disciple is evangelism. His role is that of a witness to the unbeliever. (Add the words DISCIPLER’S TASKS, DISCIPLER’S ROLES, EVANGELISM, and WITNESS.) The message of the witness is that of Christ and his death on the cross. (Draw the cross symbol. Write 1CORINTHIANS 1:18 and 1 CORINTHIANS 2:1-5 on the drawing at the top and read the Scriptures.) In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul wrote about doing the work of a sower. The witness sows the seed of the Gospel. (Under UNBELIEVER draw a seed that represents the Gospel, the Word of God, sown in the unbeliever’s heart.)
The second stage begins when the unbeliever is born again. He is a spiritual baby. (Write SPIRITUAL BABY on the path.) The task of the disciple is to follow up with the new believer. His role in follow-up is like that of a parent who gives milk to the baby. (Write FOLLOW-UP and PARENT in the second section.) If the believer is not helped, he will likely remain a spiritual baby as long as he lives. (Write I Corinthians 3:1-3 on the drawing and read it.) The parent must nurture the spiritual baby by giving him food. Giving the baby food allows him to grow and develop normally. (Draw a tin of milk to represent nurture.)
Another picture of the spiritual growth of a person is that of a seed. 1 Corinthians 3 says a believer is like a field in which seeds are planted. The first thing you need to do with new converts is to be sure they have experienced the new birth—that they have the seed of the Word in their hearts. Then you can help water the seed to cause it to grow. By the end of this second stage, the seed will be sprouting. (Under SPIRITUAL BABY draw a seed that has sprouted as shown in the illustration.) Spiritual growth is also pictured in 1 Corinthians 3 as that of building a temple. The foundation is Jesus Christ.
The next stage in the development of the believer is a spiritual disciple. (Write SPIRITUAL DISCIPLE on the road in the third section.) The task of the disciple is training or helping the new Christian to continue to grow. His role is that of a servant, not a master. God is the one who causes growth. (Write TRAINING and SERVANT as illustrated on the drawing. Write 1 CORINTHIANS 3: 5-6 on the drawing and read the Scripture aloud.) Sometimes more than one person is involved in helping a disciple to grow. Paul and Apollos are examples of those who worked together to disciple new believers. The disciples cultivate the disciples by providing the right conditions for growth. (Draw a picture of a hoe to represent cultivation.)
The disciple in this stage is living in union with Christ. He is rooted deep in Christ and building his life on Christ. (Read Colossians 2:6-7.) By the end of this stage, the disciple will spiritually mature. He will be bearing fruit and living a holy life. (Draw a tree with roots and fruit.)
More disciples need to become multiplying leaders. (Write MULTIPLYING LEADERS on the pathway.) Many do not grow beyond the spiritual disciple stage. Your task is to equip the person whom you are disciplined to become the right kind of leader. Your role is that of a steward. (Write EQUIPPING and STEWARD on the fourth section of the drawing. In the New Testament times the steward was the overseer of an entire compound for the owner. Paul compared the steward to the person responsible for building a temple upon the foundation. (Write 1 CORINTHIANS 3:10-16 on the drawing and read it. Draw the picture of the hammer to represent the building.) As steward-builders, we must help build lives that stand the test of eternity, not just a few years. Keep the standards high for yourself and your disciples. Help the disciples develop strong beliefs and ways of living that will stand any test. Now the spiritual disciple begins to multiply. Let us draw a tall tree with small trees around it to show multiplication. (Draw trees.)
The last stage in the growth of the disciple is a co-laborer. (Write CO-LABOURER on the path.) As your disciple grows to become a co-laborer, your task is that of supporting and your role is that of an encourager. (Write SUPPORTING and ENCOURAGER as shown in the illustration. Write 1 CORINTHIANS 3:7-9, 4:6, 17, and read the verses.) This is an example of how the task of the disciple blends with that of a disciple. God wants many co-laborers working together to produce multiplying leaders. This work is done best in the local church. (Draw three links of a chain to represent working together. Draw a group of equal-sized trees.) These fruit-bearing trees symbolize disciples who will produce disciple-makers.
In the process of disciplining, how much of the responsibility does the disciple assume? How much should the disciple assume? (Write DISCIPLER’S RESPONSIBILITY to the left of the drawing and the percentages 10% to 100% from top to bottom.) In the beginning, all the responsibility of witnessing to an unbeliever is yours. As they respond to your witness, they assume part of the responsibility. Then, believers who start developing and maturing as Christians share the responsibility for their growth with you. When they become multiplying leaders and co-laborers they assume most of the responsibility. (Write DISCIPLE’S RESPONSIBILITY to the right with the percentages 10% to 100% from bottom to top.)
Maturing Christians will be coming to you for help and advice. At the same time, they will be working with others. You are to help them with the problems they are having as they work with others. This is part of your responsibility as a disciple. You must also correct growing Christians when they make mistakes. You may not like to do this, but if you love them and want them to be effective in their ministry, you will have to do it. Be sure that you never speak or act out of anger or frustration. Pray about it before you correct a person’s mistakes.
Here are a few guidelines to help you become a wise MasterBuilder:
- As your disciple develops, he should be encouraged to help someone who is going through the stage he has just completed. Teaching what he has learned is the best way to learn it well and make it a part of his life.
- You should be helping different people at each stage at the same time. Do not spend all your time with persons who are at the highest stages. Many disciples do this and lose their effectiveness. As you help your disciples develop, encourage them to disciple persons at every stage of development that they have completed.
- You are not the only factor in the growing process. God, the persons involved, the materials you use, the disciplining group, other co-laborers, and the church are all important in the disciple’s growth.
- Keep your vision of what God wants to accomplish through you and through those you train. (Write NEED and VISION at the bottom of the illustration.) Keep looking at the need and look beyond it to the purpose of God. As your disciple shows more interest, give them more time and help. Do not neglect the growing persons to help persons who are not growing. Helping those who are growing produces co-laborers to help those who are not growing. As a wise MasterBuilder, always remember the final goal is disciples who will be able to disciple others.
As a wise MasterBuilder, you will find yourself working with people at every stage of development. Some of those you help may excel you in ministry, as Paul did with Barnabas. What will be your attitude? As a good parent, servant, steward, and encourager, you will rejoice with them and thank God you have been successful. John said, “Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my children live in the truth” (3 John 4).
As you examine what you have done until now, commit yourself to helping persons come to know Christ, follow up and disciple them, and equip them to become multiplying leaders and co-laborers. Decide today to be a steward of all God has entrusted to you. you.