After telling his disciples that he had all authority in heaven and earth, the crucified and risen Jesus gave them the following instructions:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.… (Matthew 28:19–20)
That’s the church’s mission, and every disciple of Jesus has a part to play in it. We exist to make disciples right where we live and among all nations. There are no spectators in this mission. We are all born (again) to reproduce.
So, how are you going to make disciples?
This personal disciple-making plan is aimed at helping you answer that question. In the pages ahead, you’ll find questions prompting you to consider how you can be intentional about growing in Christ and helping others to do the same. Space is provided for you to record your responses.
Remember, making disciples only happens in the power of God’s Spirit and in dependence on his Word. So don’t forget to make prayer a regular part of your disciple-making efforts. And don’t forget to involve others: invite a friend to encourage you and provide accountability. Making disciples isn’t always easy, and Satan loves to discourage and distract us. Gratefully, the same Jesus who claimed to have all authority in heaven and earth also promised to be with us in this disciple-making mission (Matthew 28:20).
How will I fill my mind with truth?
The life of the disciple is the life of a learner. We constantly attune our ears to the words of our Master. As he teaches us through his Word, he transforms us in the world. Consider a plan for reading, meditating, memorizing, and learning God’s Word, but don’t forget that disciples do these things not merely for information but for transformation. Our goal as disciples is never simply to hear God’s Word; our goal is to believe and obey God’s Word. So, as you plan to fill your mind with truth, resolve to follow the One who is himself the truth.
How will I read God’s Word?
You might start with a plan to read a chapter of the Bible each day, or you could use a Bible-reading plan that covers all (or part) of the Bible over a certain period of time. Record your plan below.
How will I memorize God’s Word?
As you read God’s Word, look for verses, paragraphs, or even chapters that seem particularly significant and applicable to your life. Then commit them to memory. Memorizing God’s Word is a great way to meditate on its meaning and its implications for your life. Make a list of verses or passages that you plan to memorize.
How will I learn God’s Word from others?
Our intake of God’s Word is not just an individual effort; it’s a community project. We all need to sit under the faithful preaching of God’s Word in a local church, and we all need brothers and sisters in Christ who are building us up by speaking the truth in love. Commit to learning God’s Word from others through your church’s corporate worship gathering, through a small group, and through biblical resources and teaching. Make a list of ways you plan to regularly learn God’s Word from others.
How will I fuel my affections for God?
There is a dangerous tendency for discipline in the disciple’s life to become mechanical and monotonous. Our aim is not simply to know truths about God; our aim is to love God, and the more we read his Word, the more we delight in his glory. The aim of other spiritual disciplines is similar. As we worship, pray, fast, and give, we fuel affection for God.
How will I worship?
Consider ways that you can focus on worshiping God in every facet of your life, and be intentional about making your church’s weekly gathering a priority. List some ways in which you will commit to worshiping God both in private and alongside other believers.
How will I pray?
Concentrated prayer at a specific time is the best fuel for continual prayer all the time. Write down topics and specific people you plan to pray for regularly. Identifying specific times and places to pray can also be helpful.
How will I fast?
Once a week or once every few weeks, instead of eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, spend that hour praying and reading God’s Word. Once you’ve grown accustomed to this practice, plan to fast for two meals in one day, and then eventually for an entire twenty-four-hour period. Write down a date to begin fasting, and then make a plan for how often you plan to practice this spiritual discipline.
How will I give?
One of the most effective ways to fuel affection for God is to give your resources in obedience to God. This starts with giving to the church, though it may extend above and beyond this as well. Giving intentionally, generously, sacrificially, and cheerfully fuels selfless love for God that overcomes selfish desires for the things of this world. Commit to giving regularly through your local church, and then identify some additional ways you can use your resources to meet needs around you and among the nations.
How will I share God’s love as a witness in the world?
God’s will in the world and for our lives is to spread his gospel, grace, and glory to all peoples. Therefore, instead of asking what God’s will is for our lives, disciples of Jesus should be asking, “How can my life align with his will so that I can be his witness in the world?” Every person that God has graciously put around you is a sinner in need of a Savior. You were once that person, yet someone intentionally sought you out to share the gospel with you. So, with the Word of God in your mouth and the Spirit of God in your heart, tell other people the good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and then urge them to repent and believe.
Write down the names of at least five unbelievers God has placed in your life. Then begin praying specifically for God, through the power of his Spirit, to draw them to himself and to use you to share the gospel with them.
In the context of where you live, work, and play, how can you begin conversations about the gospel? Write down some specific ways to begin these conversations.
As you think about the people you identified above, consider when and where you might intentionally share the gospel with them (i.e., over a meal, during an activity together, after inviting them to your church’s worship gathering, etc.). Write down when and where you will attempt to begin these gospel conversations.
How will I show God’s love as a member of a church?
Every follower of Christ should be committed to a local church where they are sharing life with other followers of Christ in mutual accountability under biblical leadership. To follow Christ is to love his church. It is biblically, spiritually, and practically impossible to be a faithful disciple of Christ (much less make disciples of Christ) apart from devotion to a spiritual family of Christians.
As a member of the church, remember that you are not a spectator on the sidelines but a participant in the mission. Identify other members you can build up with the Word, pray for, and serve.
As you look across the church as a whole (or your small group in particular), consider what things you can do to build up the body of Christ and what you will do to make sure that you have people who are watching out for your spiritual health. Identify specific ways that you will clearly express the love of Christ in and through the church.
How will I spread God’s glory among all peoples?
Is the Lord leading you and your family to spend your life among an unreached people group for the sake of the gospel? Sadly, around 3.2 billion people and over 7,000 people groups are still considered “unreached.” That is, they have little or no access to the gospel. The question we need to ask is, “How does God want me to be involved in getting the gospel to them?” Consider how you might pray, give, and go for the sake of God’s glory among the unreached.
How will I pray for the nations?
Pray passionately for God’s kingdom to come and for his will to be done across the earth. Make a plan to focus your prayers on unreached peoples and places, and record your plan below.
How will I give to the nations?
Plan to sacrifice your resources for the sake of the nations. Sacrifice the wants in your budget to give to the needs of the world—most particularly the need for unreached people groups to gain access to the gospel. This kind of giving begins with the church as the church sends and supports missionaries; there may also be other avenues to give above and beyond your regular giving to the church. Write down what giving for the sake of the nations will look like for you.
How will I go to the nations?
Is the Lord leading you to spend your life, lead your family, or leverage your work for the sake of getting the gospel to the unreached? If you’ve never spent time in another context, you might consider going on a short-term mission trip. Or perhaps the Lord is leading you to consider going long-term to help plant a church among the unreached. Regardless, ask him to give you a willing and obedient heart. Record a prayer below that expresses your desire to be used for the spread of God’s glory among the nations.
How will I make disciples among a few people?
Jesus spent his life investing in a few people for the sake of all peoples. He taught his disciples the truth and modeled it for them with his life. We too should be investing in others, teaching them what it means to follow Jesus and inviting them to see what this looks like—however imperfectly—in our own lives. Our ultimate goal is that they would then make disciples of others, all to the glory of God.
How will I bring them in?
Consider two, three, or four people God has put in your sphere of influence whom you can help to follow Jesus more faithfully and lead to make disciples. Invite them to spend time with you in the days ahead for the purpose of growing in Christ together. Write the names of these people below.
How will I teach them to obey?
Making disciples includes teaching people to obey all that Christ commanded. Write down some ways you can teach those whom you are discipling to understand and obey God’s Word. You might even encourage them to use or adapt some of the questions above so that they can be intentional about growing in Christ and passing along what they learn to others.
How will I model obedience?
Those whom you are investing in need to see and hear and sense the life of Christ in you. Like Paul, we want to be able to say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Ask God to guard you from sin and to continually conform you to Christ in your thoughts, words, and actions. Write down some specific areas in your life where you want to see significant spiritual growth.
How will I send them out?
The goal is not simply for these few people you are focused on to follow Jesus; the goal is for them to lead other people to follow Jesus. So think through how you will encourage them to begin making disciples. Write down some ways you will serve them as you send them out.
Now That You’ve Made a Plan
Now that you’ve finished writing out a personal plan for growing as a disciple and giving your life to make disciples, set a specific day on which you will begin putting the plan into action. And make sure to share this plan with others in your church. Every Christian needs the encouragement and accountability that come in the context of a community of faith.
Write down the name of one person you are going to ask to pray for you as you put your personal disciple-making plan into action. Remember, no child of God is intended by God to be sidelined as a spectator. We have the privilege of being on the front lines of the supreme mission in all of history. Every disciple of Jesus has been called, loved, and saved to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus until the grace of God is enjoyed and the glory of God is exalted among every people group on the planet!
–Download a copy of this Personal Disciple-Making Plan.