Jesus was the greatest disciple maker who has ever lived. Let’s take a look at how Christ made disciples and we’ll discover some keys that will help kids become followers for life – kids who love Jesus and commit themselves to His purpose.
Though many people followed Jesus, He chose twelve ordinary men with a mixture of backgrounds and personalities to be His disciples. Jesus’ entire ministry depended upon these individuals who would go on to anchor the Church.
How Jesus Began
Jesus began His discipleship ministry in prayer: “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.” (Luke 6:12,13)
Jesus selected the men His Father told Him to choose, for He only did what He saw His Father doing. Christ saw these men in prayer and then hand-selected them from the multitudes: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
What we see is that Jesus focused His time in prayer, communion, and fellowship with His Father and then He selected the twelve. Jesus focused on a few and He did nothing without first having prayed.
The Bible reveals that Jesus spent more time with the 12 than with anyone else on earth. What’s AMAZING is that Jesus staked everything on His relationship with this group and especially with His inner circle of three (Peter, James, and John). These men would become responsible for carrying out everything Jesus had started. Don’t miss this point: Christ spent the majority of His ministry life pouring into this group of obscure, seemingly insignificant men. As Lord, He knew the power of small beginnings - the power of seedtime and harvest:
“He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.’” (Matthew 13:31,32)
What we learn is that bigger and much is not always better. From Christ’s discipleship model, we see that it is better to do more with a few than to do little with many. In our era, however, we are programmed to believe that the evidence of a successful ministry is how much, or how big, or how many. We turn to all kinds of disconnected programs, hit-and-miss curricula, and activities that engage, but do little to transform lives.
Statistics reveal that 70-75% of children who grew up in conservative churches now leave by the time they reach their twenties.
Perhaps this is one reason why youth are exiting the Church and many are not returning.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes:
“Kids are spending a very small amount of time in church activities, and many of those activities have very little theological, biblical, or spiritual content. As a result, we have a generation of young people who believe that there is a God, but they don’t have any particular god in mind.”
How Jesus Taught
The Scriptures record 17 instances where Christ ministered to the multitudes. However, there are approximately 46 Bible passages that show Him in private discussions with His disciples. In those smaller group settings, Jesus trained His committed followers for their own ministries. He ministered one-on-one, one-on-two, and one-on-three. At other times His ministry was conducted one-on-twelve. Christ also provided on-the-job training with the 70; and spent some apprenticeship time with the 120 as well as placing some emphasis with the 500 in Galilee.
Show, Tell, Release, Supervise
The great commission has two parts. First – we are called to go and make disciples. Second – (of no less significance, but often neglected) – we are commanded to teach new followers to obey. Without this training, there cannot be a disciple. And there cannot be training without accountability. The primary objective of the Church today is for Jesus’ disciples to build other people into disciples. We should filter everything we do, say, and teach through the question, “How will this help us make disciples?”
The most effective manner to train and equip people for any skill is by providing effective models and opportunities to practice the skill itself. Jesus used a show, tell, release, and supervise model of training. After calling the disciples, He took them along with Him, teaching and healing the sick as He went. Then, after He sensed the disciples had seen and learned enough, they were ready to try for themselves. So, He commissioned, empowered, instructed, and sent them out to do the same things. To bring others into a complete understanding and walk in Christ-likeness, this model of training should be no different today.
Last Will & Testimony
Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus gathered these followers together and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Think about this … Christ intentionally invested His life with 12 people and then directed, “Now you guys go out and do the same with others.”
So, what should we do? How can kids live radically God-centered lives and turn the world upside down? Jesus gave us the answer – “Make disciples.”
What You Can Do
DiscipleLand’s complete Children’s Discipleship System is a blueprint to disciple kids. Our entire purpose is to help parents and teachers transform children into lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ—children who know God intimately, love Him passionately, and serve Him selflessly. This comprehensive plan ensures that children achieve balanced growth in Bible knowledge, Christ-like character, and faithful conduct—everything they need to become devoted followers of our Lord Jesus. We invite you to take a look at our website where you’ll discover a family of resources including Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary, and Kids Church.