Discipleship is a very important ministry of the local church. Churches need committed men and women to serve faithfully to keep the church operating effectively for Christ. Jesus sought and found twelve men to follow Him so that He could train them for the gospel ministry (Mt. 4:18-25; Mk. 1:16-20; John 1:35-51). In Matthew 4:18-19 Jesus told Peter and Andrew that He would make them “fishers of men.” Jesus’ whole desire was to shape and mold these men for the gospel ministry. The disciples were committed and left their jobs to follow Christ (I am not saying that today everyone must leave their jobs to be disciples). To be a disciple takes a great commitment. In Luke 9:57-62 three different men sought to follow Jesus half heartedly, but all three had excuses why they could not totally commit themselves to Him and Jesus responded to them by saying: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Lk. 9:62)
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus extends an invitation to all to come unto Him for salvation. Then in vv.29&30 He offers an opportunity for discipleship as people can learn of Him and serve in yoke with Him. It is truly Jesus’ desire that people will accept Him as their savior and follow Him in discipleship. According to Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-26, discipleship is costly. Jesus expects His disciples to die to their self interests (v.23). If we are going to be a true disciple of Christ, then we must set aside all of our goals, ambitions, desires, and our will and allow Jesus to rule and guide our lives the way He wants too. A true disciple is to take up his cross and follow Jesus. A man on a cross no longer directs his own life, but he is under the will of another, namely the one who put him on the cross. A disciple must be utterly devoted to Christ (Lk.14:33).
Discipleship is extremely important because local churches need dedicated followers of Christ to function properly in God’s plan. Paul frequently was discipling others to be servants and leaders in the church. For example, Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus provide us examples of Paul’s working with them. Paul seen two young men with great potential to be church leaders and invested his time and energy in training them. According to 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul expected Timothy to also disciple other people. Timothy was to share with faithful men what Paul taught him so that they would in return teach others. Consequently, Paul is laying down the principle that discipleship is an ongoing process amongst believers preparing them to do God’s work.
Unfortunately, not all believers will be good disciples. I read somewhere that Dwight Pentecost commented that being a disciple is not all about how much you know or how much you do, but how much are you committed to Christ. Again in 2 Timothy 2:3-7 Paul uses the examples of a soldier (vv.3-4), an athlete (v.5), and the farmer (vv.5-7) to describe a good disciple. All three professions require discipline, dedication, and focus; three characteristics that produce good, obedient disciples for Christ. What kind of disciple are you? Are you discipling anybody?