Jesus understood the importance of discipleship (the process of making disciples). In fact, it was so important, He made sure it was His last directive to those who followed Him. What precisely is discipleship and why is it so important? Is it simply a matter of making converts? No, it’s much more. The process of making disciples is often misunderstood and neglected in the Church today, and as a result, we are in danger of losing our identity as Christians. Christian discipleship is critical to Christian survival.
Even secular dictionaries recognize discipleship as something more
than simply creating “members” or “converts”. Dictionary.com describes a
disciple as “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another.” Webster’s online dictionary defines a disciple as “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” At least one aspect of discipleship involves learning the doctrines
of a particular system or teacher. This intellectual aspect of being a
disciple is affirmed in the Bible. The Greek word used for “disciple” in
the New Testament is “mathētḗs” and its root, “math-“, means the “mental effort needed to think something through“.
Disciples are “learners”, “scholars” and followers of Christ who “learn
the doctrines of Scripture and the lifestyle they require”. There is an
important connection between doctrine and behavior. It’s not enough to simply follow Jesus’ moral teaching related to behavior, true disciples must understand the doctrines
of Christianity. What does our worldview teach, theologically or
philosophically? How are we to make a defense (1 Peter 3:15), hold fast
the faithful word which is in accordance with this teaching (Titus 1:9),
recognize a heresy when we see one (Titus 3:10), and guard the treasure
which has been entrusted to us (2 Timothy 1:14)? Becoming a disciple means becoming a learner. --J Warner Wallace