Jesus’ Method of Discipleship – Robert Coleman from Exponential 2013

Robert Coleman

Jesus’ Method of Discipleship

Breakout Session



The following are my notes from Robert Coleman’s breakout session at Exponential 2013:


Matthew 28:17-20

Jesus has all power and all authority.

Romans 10:9, Jesus is Lord.


Therefore, because he has all authority, go and make disciples.

No distinction between home and foreign missions/

One big world that needs a Savior.

We win the world by making disciples.


Disciple means apprentice or learner.

Disciples do not stop with conversion.

They follow Jesus.


Jesus assumes an ever-enlarging work force that, through multiplication, will reach the world.


Methods are variable, conditioned by our time and situation, but principles inherent in Jesus’ ministry always apply.


9 principles which flow together.


Principle 1

Incarnation – Become a servant.

Jesus made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.

He did not come to be served, but to serve.


Jesus went about doing good.

HE showed that God loved the world.

People could see that Jesus cared.

He fed, healed, cleansed, etc.


The multitudes saw that Jesus taught as one with authority.

To reach the world, we must be servants.

When people know that they are loved, they will listen to us.

For our generation, which has lost any sense of objective truth, it may be the only way that they will hear us.


What can you do in your generation and in your situation?

Identify felt needs around you and do what you can to help.

This helps your witness become credible.

Communication begins often at the affection level.

One who is known as a servant will never lack opportunities for evangelism.


Principle 2

Selection – Look for disciples

Appreciation can be deceptive.

The crowds did not understand who Jesus was, even as they shouted “Hosanna!”

The masses were like lost sheep with no one to lead them.

Jesus helped the people.

But, in the limits of human incarnation, Jesus could not give attention to every person who wanted attention.

Unless he raised up coworkers, men and women with shepherds’ hearts, there was no way that the world would be redeemed and discipled.

How do we find those to join us?


While ministering to the multitudes, Jesus looked for others to train.

Jesus found men who had things in common culturally, socially, and educationally.

These men were teachable.

Such people can be molded.

Discipleship is best accomplished with a few people providentially drawn into your life.

When we make evangelism about one short-term event without discipleship, we harm the mission of making disciples.


People with whom you have something in common are people you have the greatest opportunity to change the world with.


Principle 3

Association – Build a relationship

Jesus chose 12 to be with him in a special way.

He gave a diminishing priority to those outside the 12.

He gave even greater priority to the 3.

The smaller the size of the group being taught, the greater the opportunity for learning.

For 3 years, Jesus and his friend stayed together.

How strange, Jesus spent more time with a handful of disciples than with the rest of the world.

This is not really weird.

God started his plan to build the world through one married couple.

Making disciples is like raising kids.

Close personal relationships are crucial in discipleship.

New converts especially need your attention.

Developing mature leaders will increasingly occupy your ministry.

Dinner, going to a ballgame, golf, all can help you fulfill the Great Commission.

Casual activities do not take the place of church services.

Both are needed.

But learning comes more naturally in more relaxed, family-like settings.

Small groups that are devoted to prayer and Bible teaching can be great.


Principle 4

Consecration – Teach them to obey

What made Jesus’ relationship to the disciples work was their obedience.

Faith in Christ is evidenced by following him.

The disciples obeyed Jesus more than they understood right doctrine.

Jesus was patient with them as they were willing to walk in obedience to what they knew.

The disciples wanted to obey Jesus as they learned to love Jesus..

John ends his gospel with the story of Jesus asking Peter if he loves him.


Illustration of the 5-year-old son bringing him a drink while he was gardening.

The kid could have done it better, but his love was apparent.


This generation is not blind to sacrificial love.

We should make genuine discipleship a part of the nature of the church.



Principle 5

Demonstration – Lead by example


Following Christ, the disciples were always in school.

Jesus’ life demonstrated what he wanted his disciples to do.

Jesus showed them prayer.

Eventually, they asked him to teach them to pray.

Then Jesus demonstrated for them an example of prayer.


Jesus showed them:

·        the importance of Scripture

·        caring for the needy

·        worship

·        etc


We become the illustration of our teaching.

Learners will do what they see and hear in us.

They will see our shortcomings.

Let them also see our willingness to apologize, repent, seek forgiveness.

Our weaknesses need not hinder disciple-making.

If they see us being genuine, they will learn from us.


Principle 6

Delegation – Involve them in ministry

Jesus was always preparing his disciples to carry on his work.

Jesus gave them things to do.

They distributed food.

They baptized.

They were sent out to do ministry like what Jesus had been doing.


The disciples were even called to go and find leaders to train.

This may be why they were called to stay in the same home when they were sent out

They developed a relationship with a few promising learners.

If no potential leaders could be found in a community, they were to shake off the dust from their feet and move on.

We do not have the luxury of going through the motions of ministry if no one is being discipled.


Every member can do some sort of ministry.

We need to help them grow into those areas of ministry.

As they grow, they can take new forms and areas of service.

Nothing falls outside the mission of helping a few learners fulfill their role in the Great Commission.


Principle 7

Supervision – Monitor their progress.

Jesus checked on the disciples after he gave them a ministry to do.

He built into their lives a sense of accountability.

Their experiences became object lessons for teaching even further truth.

Problems were dealt with when they came up.

Remember James and John wanting to call down fire on a city?

Jesus both rebuked them and taught them.

The disciples learned of the redemptive purpose of Jesus’ mission.


Jesus did not ask more from them than they were capable of giving.

He also did not let them give less than their best.


Notice that John 17 is Jesus praying for those he was sending out for work.

He prayed to watch over those men he was sending.

Through their word, the world will come to believe in him.


We need to pray for our disciples.

We need to encourage them.

We need to help them not get side-tracked.

We need to help them not to be defeated.

We need to help them with ego problems like pride and bitterness.

Rebuke will not be resented when offered in love if they also see us build in them the love and encouragement of acknowledging when they do well.

Avoid the authoritarian role of the master or guru over a student.

The disciple and the discipler learn together.


The ultimate goal is not our own piety, but it is discipling all nations.


Principle 8

Multiplication – Expect disciples to reproduce.


Living things reproduce their own kind.

If we live in conformity to Christ, we will produce disciples who learn to do the same.

Jesus is the vine. We are the branches.

If we are connected with him, we will produce fruit.


We want to produce Christ-likeness in ourselves and our disciples.

We want to send our disciples to produce Christ-likeness in others.


It does not matter how many laborers we have in the beginning provided we teach them to reproduce.

Every believer can follow.

Making disciples is not a special calling or gift of the Spirit.

Making disciples is a lifestyle.

It is a lifestyle that Jesus commands us to follow.


Scripture points out that, at Jesus’ second coming, people from all nations will know Jesus.

This only happens as we build the Kingdom by making disciples.

The Kingdom is not complete until the gospel has been preached in all the world.


Principle 9

Impartation – Trust the Holy Spirit

Jesus gave the disciples his last command, and then said he would be with them forever.

This is the promise of the Great Commission.

This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

God accomplishes the building of the kingdom through discipleship by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit brings people to Jesus, and he brings people back to Jesus.

We could never make disciples.

Only Jesus can make disciples of Jesus.

Only Jesus filling us with his Spirit can help us to do his work.

Only the Spirit can make others into disciples.

The Spirit changes us.

The Spirit makes us live as servants.

The Spirit draws out disciples.

We just need to respond to what the Spirit is doing.

The Spirit forms the fellowship of believers.

The Spirit helps us obey.

The Spirit helps us become demonstrations of what we teach.

The Spirit supervises our growth in grace.

The Spirit brings forth the harvest.

From beginning to end, the work of making disciples of Christ is the work of Almighty God.

We need the power from the Spirit just as the disciples needed that power.

We need that power daily.

We cannot rely on old experiences.

We need present experiences of the presence of God in our lives.

Discipling requires that we live in a state of constant spiritual mobilization.

If we take the Great Commission to heart, it will require daring faith.

It will look fanatical to the world.