7th July 2019
Two thousand years ago a man called a small group of twelve others, and together they walked the towns and villages of their region, telling people that God's kingdom was breaking out.
The Bible tells the disciples' story. But in many ways this is just an introduction. So amazing was their story that people are still talking about it today. Around the world millions of people still follow him and that number is growing daily.
Recently lots of people have been talking about Disciple Making Movements (DMM). It all sounds very official doesn't it? But it isn't really. It is all summed up in Jesus' invitation to a group of unlikely fishermen. This is where it all began.
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 4: 18-20
Just take a moment and think yourself into that story. Feel the sea breeze in your hair and smell the fresh fish drawn up on the beach. Where do you see yourself in that story? What do you think it felt like to be Peter and Andrew and hear Jesus say? "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men". And what does it say about Jesus that they just did it? Immediately. No hesitation.
What would you do today if Jesus walked into the room. Looked you in the eye and said "Follow me"?
And now I want to ask you to imagine a different story. Where do you spend your everyday? At work? In an office or a classroom? In front of a computer? Or at home? Doing the dishes or the laundry? Put yourself into your most mundane moment. Something you have done a thousand times. And then imagine this. One day a man walks by and asks you to follow him.
Now think about this. What kind of a man would he have to be for you to actually do it? To leave the email half-written, or the lesson half taught. To follow him down the road dripping soap suds from your fingers.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Matthew 4: 23
And what about the next part of the story. You've left your family and your job. You are going from town to town and everywhere you go people are being healed. Crowds of people are following you. What does that feel like? Was it worth it?
Follow me and I will make you fishers of men
That one sentence tells us what a disciple is - someone who follows Jesus and makes disciples. If you don't believe me check out Matt 28: 19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.
Matthew 28: 19-20
In calling Simon and Andrew, Jesus started a Disciple Making Movement. Disciples who make disciples who make disciples. It is still rolling on today, and I expect that many of you could tell stories about the people who first challenged you to follow Jesus.
What about you today? What do you think about Jesus? Are you a fan or follower?
It's easy to look at your local church and forget that you are part of a worldwide movement. Perhaps you don't see many new people coming to faith. But round the world millions of people are encountering Jesus.
Recently I had the privilege of sitting in a room with people who are starting Disciple Making Movements. Some of them just beginning. A handful of groups with about six or seven people in each. Some of them with a couple of hundred groups. At least one with multiple movements numbering over a million believers.
But how do we approach discipleship? How do we actually make disciples?
I think we often get scared about sharing our faith. Scared that we will say it wrongly. Scared that don't entirely understand it. Scared we don't have all the answers. Scared that we will look foolish. Scared that people won't want to talk.
But the thing is we are not called to make converts. We are not called to be theologians. We are called to make disciples. People who obey him, not us. And that is Discipleship in a nutshell. Following Jesus. Obeying him and encouraging others to do the same.
So how did Jesus show his disciples to make disciples?
It's really interesting to me how rarely Jesus answers a question. On many if not most of the occasions when someone asks Jesus a question what does Jesus do?
Nearly everything that Jesus did was to get people thinking about God. He didn't tell stories to entertain people. He didn't answer questions to give information - as we have noticed he seldom answered any questions! He healed people to make them well, yes - but he also healed people to show them what the world was like when God was king. He commands his disciples to do the same.
Heal the sick and tell them the kingdom of God has come near to you
Luke 10: 9
Everyone loves a story. We all love to tell stories. Of our children, or our grandchildren. Our holiday. Our time in hospital.
Our experience is that people also like stories of God. If we are trying to convert people, then they are automatically on the defensive and we get nervous because we are worried that we don't have our theology down. But if Jesus is our friend and our brother, if we follow him and find his example inspiring, why can't we just tell stories and ask questions. People aren't interested in
Jesus told stories to the crowd, but most of his discipleship was done with a smaller group. He told stories in public, and unpacked them later with his disciples. He sent them out to tell stories too
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Matthew 10: 7
So what stories do we tell? Any story about God's Kingdom that is relevant to the conversation. The story we read the other day that show's us what the world looks like when Jesus is King.
And what questions do we ask? Almost any question which makes people think about the story will do!
When we conduct a Discovery Bible Study we tend to use the same set of questions. They're powerful enough to unlock the story, and they're easy enough to remember.
You can word them any way you like, but the reason we use with these questions is that we want to get people thinking about God and how he interacts with people. That's the middle two questions
We've already said that disciples are people obey Jesus and make disciples. That's the last two questions
The first two questions build community and encourage prayer.
The questions are simple, but they are powerful. They enable people to get to the heart of what God is saying to them through the scriptures. They are also easy to remember and easy to pass on. Because of this, anyone can lead a Discovery Bible Study. That's how movements grow. As people engage with the scripture, obey it, and tell others they start new groups. Those groups go on to start others. Disciples making disciples - just as Jesus intended.
If you would like to know more about Disciple Making Movements we recommend reading David Watson's excellent book Contagious Disciple Making. To read stories about DMM in action check out Miraculous Movements. If you would like to start running Discovery Bible Studies you can get the Discover App on your phone.
Scripture quotations from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.