Visualize this scenario: you are at a coffee shop sharing Jesus with a friend. He puts his latte on the table and tells you he wants to turn from his sin and follow Jesus. Once you’ve cleaned up the mess from the macchiato that just came out of your nose, you talk with him about his decision and you welcome him joyfully into the family!
So here’s the question: What now?
If you were only interested in a notch on your evangelistic belt then you might be tempted to outsource this new disciple’s growth to a church program. If you don’t have time to make disciples then you might just give your new brother a book and send him on his way. But if you are serious about fulfilling the Great Commission by making disciples who make disciples, then you need to be intentional about this moment.
Here are four habits that you need to help your new brother (or sister) form before they pay for your coffee. (Okay, maybe you should pick up the check this time.)
Habit #1: Make Disciples
This is the first habit that needs to be formed in a new disciple. This is the habit I start with because it actually puts faith into action. In fact, someone once defined faith as “belief with legs on it”.
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Confessing that Jesus is Lord isn’t coming forward in a safe church environment and shaking the pastor’s hand. It’s not even praying “the sinner’s prayer.” Confessing with your mouth is what Paul meant it to mean, and that is, boldly sharing that Jesus is Lord to people who don’t yet know or believe that Jesus is Lord.
So, the first question to ask your new brother is, “Who do you want to share this good news with?”
Make a list and hold him accountable. Ask the follow up question, “What are you going to tell them?” This question actually gets him thinking about how to best articulate his new faith. “You will be my witnesses” means that we are to tell others about our encounter with Jesus.
Habit #2: Obedience
Jesus’ command to his disciples in Matthew 28: 18-20 was for them to make disciples of all nations. He qualified that by telling them to baptize them and teach them. I don’t get into a discussion about baptism on day one for reasons I will explore in another article. But it is absolutely essential to begin “teaching them to observe” everything Jesus commanded them. We already did this by encouraging them to do Habit #1, but how are they going to observe everything Jesus commands? If you make them dependent on you to tell them everything they are supposed to do then they might as well be your disciple and not Jesus’ disciple.
Instead, you’ve got to promote consistent exposure to God’s Word. Assign something manageable and set a one week follow up with him. Give him two or three pointers on how to read and reflect. Encourage the use of a pencil to jot down questions and insights. You don’t have to do a four hour seminar on how to study the Bible, just get him started.
Habit #3: Prayer
Jesus promises his disciples that he will always be with them. The next two habits have to do with our ongoing fellowship with him. After all, we are the one’s who get distracted and stop listening for his voice.
This is why it is so important to focus on prayer from day one. Talk with the new disciple for a couple of minutes about prayer and about Jesus’ promise to always be with us. Again, this doesn’t have to be a lecture, the goal is just to begin forming this habit. Encourage him to say a brief prayer before and after (and during) his time in the Word. Encourage him to pray before he calls his friend to share the good news about his new found faith.
Then, towards the end of your time together, pray for your new brother and ask him to pray as well.
Habit #4: Community
Finally, and this can be a quick one, invite him to come with you to your church’s worship gathering. You can take a minute or two and describe the importance of this but you can always go into more detail later. Volunteer to pick him up or to meet him somewhere.
Though you may not go into all the specifics on day one, this habit might actually be the most important for a new disciples long-term growth. The church is the Body of Christ. There is no category of Christian in the New Testament apart from membership in the Body (and membership in the Body doesn’t just mean the two of you in a coffee shop, though it certainly can include that).
Ready to Make Disciples?
These habits make sense don’t they? If we are going to intentionally make disciple-making disciples–not just converts–then there are some habits that need to be formed early. These habits imbed a reproducible DNA into a new disciple.
Take one last look at Matthew 28:18-20:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations [Habit 1], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you [Habit 2]. And remember, I am with you always [Habits 3&4], to the end of the age.”
Are you ready to be intentional?
What’s the first thing you do when you lead someone to Jesus (other than spew coffee out your nose)? Anything you would add? Anything here you haven’t been doing that you have been encouraged to start doing?