HOW TO TRAIN A DISCIPLE
by Dan Baugh
A. Begin with Evangelism
- Making disciples begins with the task of evangelism.
- If we work only with Christians in our disciple‑making ministry, then the net gain to the kingdom of God is zero.
- Aggressive evangelism is the mark of the committed disciple.
- It is primarily from the fruit of this evangelism that he chooses his Timothy to disciple.
B. Follow-up – Spiritual Pediatrics
1. If the ﬁrst step in the disciple‑making process is evangelism, then the second is follow‑up.
a) It is one thing to engage the enemy in combat and set the captives free, but it is altogether another thing to spend the necessary time with a new convert to see that he grows and matures into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
b) In physical reproduction the responsible parentsʼ task only begins when the child is born.
c) Afterward come years of careful nurture and training to ensure that the child develops to the point where he can marry and assume responsibility for his own family.
2. Follow‑up, then, is spiritual pediatrics
a) It is the care and protection of the spiritual infant.
b) It deals with the development of new babes in Christ from the time of their new birth until they grow and provide for themselves.
C. A Fatherʼs Heart
1. The Bible teaches us that God has a fatherʼs heart. – Isaiah 40‑66
a) Jesus Himself taught us to refer to God as “our Father.”
b) Follow‑up is relating to the young Christian the loving concern that our God has shown toward us.
c) We are shocked to the point of unbelief when we hear of a baby being left alone without proper care.
d) But for some reason, our consciences are dulled when we hear of new babes in Christ being neglected.
e) Left alone, they slip into carnality.
D. Fear of Becoming Involved
1. Many are afraid to become involved in the task of follow‑up because they feel inadequate.
a) They do not think they know enough about the Christian life to assume the responsibility of becoming a spiritual parent.
b) They feel that they have too far to go in the Christian life themselves to be teaching someone else.
c) All of these feelings of inadequacy are quite normal and probably will never leave.
d) They merely parallel the human (or physical) situation.
e) I have never met parents who, while raising their children, felt they had all the answers.
2. Follow‑up is nothing more and nothing less than parental concern coupled with common sense.
a) There are, however, some basic guidelines for helping a new Christian reach maturity.
b) What are the responsibilities of parents toward their newborn children?
c) Let us brieﬂy analyze a few of the more obvious ones.
I. Ensure Proper Care and Deal with Trouble Areas
Waylon Mooreʼs oldest child, Deborah Lynn, was born with hyaline membrane disease. A membrane formed around that part of the lung which mixes oxygen with the blood. In most cases, children born with this disease die. Their child was given just a 10 percent chance of survival. You can imagine how grateful they were when they discovered that Deborah had the most qualiﬁed pediatrician in the city taking care of her. He immediately put her in isolation and took every precaution to make sure she lived. By Godʼs grace, she did, and today Deborah Lynn is a healthy young woman.
The care and concern the doctor gave Deborah Lynn serves as a beautiful illustration of the diligent involvement required of us when dealing with new Christians.
Assuming that you have the responsibility for a new babe in Christ, here are some suggestions:
A. Go over again carefully with him the plan of salvation – 1 John 5:11-12
1. “And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Hethat has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:11‑12).
2. Every person who has the Son has life. a) You can ask the new Christian, “Where is Jesus Christ tonight?” b) Wherever else this babe says Christ is, he should also say that Christ is in his heart. c) An illustration of a pencil inside a Bible can be used‑the Bible representing Jesus Christ
and the pencil, eternal life. d) If the believer has the Bible (Jesus Christ), then he also has the pencil (eternal life), for eternal life is to be found in the Son.
3. Unfortunately many Christians spend years of their lives living in a fog of uncertainty.
a) Because they do not understand what the Scriptures teach on the subject, they lack assurance of salvation.
b) Proper growth and development can only stem from the new Christian knowing that he isa child of God for all eternity.
B. Pray for him – Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-20
1. The overwhelming majority of New Testament prayers deal not with the unsaved, but with the growth and maturity of new Christians.
a) Two great prayers of Paul in Ephesians, for example, deal with his concern for their growth and maturity (see Eph. 1:15‑23; 3:14‑20).
2. I ﬁnd that prayer is the hardest work I can engage in as a Christian.
a) At the same time, it is the most important part of follow‑up.
b) If you also ﬁnd that prayer is hard work, let me suggest that you simply pray for your new Christian the same prayers that you ﬁnd in the Bible, such as those in Ephesians.
c) You can do a study on the New Testament prayers that would be applicable and then use them as part of your follow‑up program.
3. Another thing I do is think through the areas in which I am having difﬁculty; then intercede for my friend in these matters.
a) The Bible says, ʻThere has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13).
b) All of us ﬁght the same temptations and have the same basic needs.
C. Visit him soon and frequently after his decision for Christ
1. This is particularly important during the days immediately following his conversion experience.
a) Satan regroups and marshals his counteroffensive, and the new Christian is particularly vulnerable because he does not understand the nature of spiritual warfare or the great truths in the Bible that can help him through trials and temptations.
2. In the ﬁrst 10 days of a childʼs life, his mother must be with him almost constantly.
a) The older the child becomes, the less frequently she needs to see him.
b) Again, what is true in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual.
3. One of the most signiﬁcant ministries you can have with your new Christian is that of encouragement.
a) Let him know that he is now a part of the family of God and that the two of you are brothers in Christ.
b) One of the things that Satan will try to deceive him into believing is that the temptations and problems that he faces are unique to him.
c) Encourage him with the fact that we all ﬁght the same problems; and not only this but during these times of temptation, you want to stand together with him against them.
II. Ensure a Proper Diet
When little Deborah Lynn ﬁnally came home from the hospital, victorious over her disease, wehad to bear the responsibility for feeding her regularly. We fed her not when we wanted to butwhen she wanted to be fed‑and often this was at the most inconvenient times. One thing was certain: we did not ask her to manage for herself. It would have been cruel to say to her,“Sweetheart, if you want to eat, there is plenty of food in the refrigerator; help yourself.”
The proper spiritual diet for a new Christian should include at least:
A. A consistent quiet time – Mark 1:35
1. In Mark 1:35 we read of one of the habits the Lord Jesus developed. “And in the morning,rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
a) Each day should begin with a brief period of fellowship with the Lord, for thus thebeliever gets his spiritual nourishment for the day.
b) The quiet time should include a time of prayer and some time in the Word.
2. The simple acrostic ACTS is useful in helping a person get started in prayer.
a) Adoration- Psalm 147:1
(1) Begin with a time of worship, praying over the greatness of God.
(2) Encourage the new Christian to use some of the great prayers in the Bible such as that in 1 Chronicles 29:11‑14.
b) Confession – 1 John 1:9
(1) This is a time of acknowledging our sinfulness and our dependence on the Lord.
(a) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and tocleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
(2) This verse is the Christianʼs bar of soap.
(3) Let us imagine that my little child, acting in disobedience, goes outside and plays inthe mud.
(a) As she comes in crying and asking for forgiveness, not only do I forgive her, but Itake her into the bathroom, wash her from head to foot, and wash her clothes so that, when we are through, it is as though she had never been outside.
(4) This is the promise the Lord Jesus makes to the believer in 1 John 1:9. c) Thanksgiving – James 1:17
(1) The long list of sins mentioned in Romans 1 begins with the phrase in verse 21,“neither were thankful.”
(2) Early in the Christian life the believer must learn the importance of being thankful.
(3) This part of the prayer time consists of enumerating the many blessings bestowed onus by our gracious God.
(4) Scripture says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow ofturning” (James 1:17).
d) Supplication – Matthew 7:7-8
(1) We spend time praying for others‑our family, friends, church, country. You can helpthe young Christian in this aspect of prayer, teaching him how to use prayer pages.Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle, entitling the left‑hand column “Requests” and the right‑hand column “Answers.” Beside each request listthe date entered. When the prayer is answered, jot down how it was answered with
the date. In a graphic way, this will show the new Christian the marvelous way thatGod answers prayer.
3. Of the many good helps available to the Christian for his quiet time, two favorites of mine are:
a) The Quiet Time, published by InterVarsity Press, and b) Seven Minutes with God, published by The Navigators.
4. Help the young Christian to be consistent in having his quiet time by initially having it withhim.
a) For example, have a quiet time with him every morning during the ﬁrst week of his newwalk with the Lord.
b) During the second week, meet with him every other morning, and then once a week for the next month or two.
5. Encourage him to begin with a short period of time with the Lord rather than with aprotracted time.
a) This is the beauty of the little plan mentioned in Seven Minutes with God.
b) It is better to have seven minutes with the Lord consistently every day and stay with it,than to begin by having one hour with the Lord every morning, and then quit indiscouragement.
B. Bible reading – 1 Peter 2:2
- 1 “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby” (1Peter 2:2). Start the young Christian with a small portion, preferably from the New Testamentor the Psalms and incorporate it in his quiet time.
- 2 One method that has worked with a great deal of success is to read a paragraph or two and,as you meditate on it, circle or mark one verse that is particularly meaningful. a) This becomes the favorite verse for the morning. b) Do this for six mornings, each morning picking out a favorite verse. c) Then during the quiet time on the seventh morning, review the six favorite verses, and
pick out the one that is the favorite among the favorites. d) That verse can then be written on a small card and memorized.
C. Bible study – Acts 20:32
“So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to buildyou up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctiﬁed.” Acts 20:32
1. The most important goal of follow‑up is to teach the young Christian how to feed himself from the Word of God.
a) Expose him to mature Christians who can feed him, and thus teach him “the wholecounsel of God,” but remember this can never be a substitute for the person learninghow to feed himself.
b) I remember in those early days of little Deborahʼs life what a joy it was to hold her and feed her.
(1) There she was, nestled in my arms‑two eyes, a nose, and a bottle.
(2) As she became older, however, we encouraged her to learn to feed herself.
(3) So important was this to us as parents that we did not even mind when she used herﬁngers to eat.
(4) We knew that the process of teaching her how to eat graciously would be slow andarduous.
(5) But it was also essential.
2. In the initial stages of follow‑up, you and your pastor will have to do most of the feeding of the new babe.
a) For many new Christians, the task of learning how to feed themselves from the Word ofGod is laborious.
b) It has a tendency to appear legalistic and unfruitful.
c) For this reason, the new Christian will often be tempted to quit trying.
d) Realizing this temptation, you will have to work closely with him, encouraging him to staywith it.
3. There are many good Bible‑study helps on the market but, unfortunately, there are few that Iknow of that teach a person how to feed himself.
a) The Navigators have a Bible study series, Design for Discipleship, the objective of whichis to teach the young Christian what it means to become a disciple and to wean him fromBible‑study aids in the process so that eventually he can take the Bible and feed himselfwithout any outside helps other than the Holy Spirit.
b) Another excellent book for the mature Christian on how to do Bible study is IndependentBible Study by Irving L. Jensen (Moody Press).
4. Whatever Bible‑study method is employed, it should include a period of time when the youngChristian prepares the study on his own, and then a period of time when he meets together with a group of people who also have done the study and who share their results and learnfrom one another.
a) In the early weeks of learning how to do Bible study, you will want to prepare the lessonwith the new Christian.
b) There is just no substitute for going through these growth processes step by step.
III. Ensure Love and Affection
There is one thing it is impossible to give people too much of, and that is love. Peoplemisunderstand what love is all about and imagine it to be synonymous with spoiling people. Thetwo are in no way related. Sociologists and psychologists tell us that if a child is deprived of lovein the early years of his life, it is questionable whether he will ever be able to understand what ittruly means to love and be loved. One of the basic needs in life is to be loved and wanted. Weneed to apply the principle of TLC (Tender Loving Care) to our babes in Christ. Envelop theyoung Christian with love!
A. Invite him over to your home for meals and make him feel a part of the family – 1Corinthians 16:15
1. Bob Wheeler, a carpenter by trade, was the person who led Waylon Moore to Christ many years ago.
a) One of the most signiﬁcant things he did was to involve Waylon in his family life.
b) His home was Waylonʼs home and they always felt welcome.
c) Moore says, “I cannot recall how many times I ate at his table, but I know I virtually atehim out of house and home! When I think of Bob, I think of 1 Corinthians 16:15: “Know the house of Stephanas, that it is the ﬁrst fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (italics added).”
2. We should all adopt this verse and claim for our own home.
B. Involve him in the warmth and fellowship of the church – Hebrews 10:25
- 1 The writer of the Book of Hebrews warns, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25).
- 2 There is a certain chemistry that takes place in the fellowship of believers which produces anenvironment that is conducive to growth and stability.
a) I can remember when Bob took me to church for the ﬁrst time.
b) His friends became my friends.
c) The fellowship and encouragement they showed me was a major factor in my development as a Christian.
3. Church was where I had an opportunity to observe other believers and to adopt their lifestyleas mine.
a) There was a great deal in my old life that had to be discarded, and a great deal of newlife that had to be incorporated.
b) That small church played a major role in my making that transition.
C. Take him with you – Mark 3:14; Proverbs 27:17
1. It is written of the Lord Jesus, “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, andthat He might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14). a) Travel together b) Take vacations together
c) Play sports together d) Do things together
2. What will take place is described in Proverbs 27:17: “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
IV. Ensure an Atmosphere of Acceptance – 1 Peter 4:8
A. What All Children Desire
1. One of the things all children appreciate is being able to talk to their father about any subjectthat is on their mind without fear of being misunderstood or reprimanded.
a) The older we become the more precious this heritage becomes. b) It is something that we all need to work on with our own children.
2. Often there are things on our hearts that we would like to talk to someone about, but we areapprehensive simply because we are afraid of being misunderstood.
a) When following up a Christian, it is essential that he feels free to share his doubts, fears,and personal problems no matter how intimate they may be, without feeling he will becondemned or rejected because of them.
b) Peter says, “Love covers the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
B. Overcoming Feelings of Inadequacy
1. Probably no better counsel is to be found in how to overcome the feelings of inadequacy thatall of us have, particularly in our interpersonal relationships.
a) In meeting the needs of my wife, in raising my children, in helping others mature inChrist, this feeling of inadequacy is sometimes overwhelming.
b) But somehow it all turns out well by adding this ingredient called “love.”
2. The apprehension you will feel in assuming responsibility for helping the new Christian is quite natural.
a) The application of these simple principles will help, but will not eliminate allapprehension.
b) Stick close by the person and love him as you would love a member of your own family.
3. God will do the rest.