The Who of Discipleship
So who should be discipled? Who are we looking to disciple? I have heard many different things about who you should and shouldn’t disciple but lets look at what Christ had to say in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Jesus tells us to go to all nations and teach! So exactly who needs discipled?
The first group of people who need to be discipled are Christians! These are people who have made a profession of faith. Every Christian should go through discipleship at some point in their life. The best time is right after they are saved, so they can grow and mature in Christ as a young Christian. The sad reality is in many churches around America there are Christians who have been in church their whole life and have never been discipled! I would tell you this, if you have never been discipled no matter how old or young you are, I would recommend finding someone and going through discipleship with them. You should do this yourself before you begin discipling others. If you have been discipled then look around your church and find people who have never been discipled. Approach people and ask if they want to study the Bible with you or go through discipleship with you. As you take them through discipleship, at a certain point you can continue with them and they should look for a person to begin discipling themselves and the process can keep going! The first group of people that need discipled are Christians. I would tell you this though, if a person is not faithful to your church, I would only disciple them so far. Hopefully, going through discipleship to a certain point would get them to be faithful in church, but after several lessons and they still don’t seem interested in coming and being involved in church, I would say move on and find someone who is faithful. You may ask, Where do you get this? Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 2 “commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” The people you disciple should be faithful in serving the Lord and faithful in coming to church.
The second group of people who should be discipled are the unsaved. You are probably saying how in the world can an unsaved person be discipled? Does that not defeat the purpose? Isn’t discipleship just for Christians? Well, the truth is many discipleship books and lessons start with the basics. They start with “Who is God?” and “Who is Jesus?” and lead into salvation and then deeper issues of faith. They are built to start off with someone who is not saved and bring them to salvation! So, yes, you can and should take an unsaved person through discipleship with the goal of seeing them saved and continuing it with them to help them grow in Christ! Now once again, you could begin discipleship with an unsaved person who is not in church but you would only continue so far if they don’t become faithful to church. Also, there is probably a cut off point that if someone is not saved yet you should continue with lessons on salvation until they are saved or don’t want to meet any longer. If they are unsaved, typically after the lessons on salvation and baptism they will not be able to understand or apply the materials to their lives. If the individual is still coming to church and showing interest in the Bible and God, I would keep meeting with them but keep going over salvation until they trust Christ!
So really discipleship is for anyone! We should all have been discipled or get discipled and then in turn, disciple others! We should be looking for someone in our church to disciple and also maybe find someone who is not currently in church and see if they would be interested in discipleship with the intent of seeing them get saved and faithfully attending church! Christ commanded us to teach all nations and our job is not done until the whole world is not only reached with the gospel but also every Christian has been discipled and is working on discipling others! So the real question is who are you discipling and who have you discipled?