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“Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons.”—Mark 3:13–15 (NLT)
There are a lot of books, podcasts, teachings, and articles about the best ways to disciple someone. Countless scholars, experts, and pastors have sought to provide tips, tricks, and explain the best practices for this all-important aspect of ministry and the Christian life, and with good reason. To disciple someone, to raise them up in the faith to become mature believers who experience the “fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13 PHILLIPS) is a huge honor, but also a huge responsibility.
Much like parenting, it requires a great deal of time, energy, intentionality, devotion, and care. So how do we know the best way to engage in discipleship? It turns out the best model is found in the Gospels!
In today’s passage, we see Jesus select the 12 disciples. It says here that He “called them his apostles.” The word apostles (apostolos) is defined as, “a messenger, envoy, delegate, one commissioned by another to represent him in some way.” It’s someone who has been sent forth with orders on the authority of the sender. But I want you to see something here with me . . . before officially sending them out, they were to “accompany him.” And they did . . . for three years.
In those three years together, these men were taught by Jesus, led by Jesus, and given an example on how to live by Jesus. They saw Him preach, heal, and show amazing compassion toward the broken, the outcast, and the downtrodden. These men walked, ate, prayed, celebrated, cried, and were reprimanded by Him. And they grew to be the men we revere today in the presence and under the care of Jesus. He chose them, raised them up, then sent them out as His messengers to accomplish the mission.
This is the model we should all follow. It’s the tried and true formula laid out for us by Jesus Himself. It was the model the apostles used—we saw Paul use it with leaders like Timothy, Silas, and Titus. Some of the best ways to engage in this type of effective discipleship includes one-on-one discipleship or leading a small group. Once you’ve established who to disciple, look to Jesus and the apostles for examples on the best ways to raise them up. If we all—after being invested in and poured into—adopt this method laid out by the Lord Jesus, we’ll live to see some amazing growth in the Church and advancement of the kingdom!
DIG: What resources have you sought and poured over when it comes to discipleship?
DISCOVER: How does Jesus’ model make discipleship accessible and attainable? Why did He do it this way?
DO: Read through the Gospels and examine the discipleship model Jesus set forth.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.