As disciples and churches, it is a great privilege to be on mission with God in building His kingdom to the ends of the earth. Every day we should want to be a part of kingdom advances in some way. According to the Great Commission, a large part of living for the kingdom is to help other disciples also live for the kingdom, and in doing so, to teach them to keep the movement going. We’ve heard this before: make disciples that make disciples. This sounds like the right goal, but how do we get there? Are there any helpful rhythms that we should implement? Since Jesus gave us the Great Commission, is there anything we can learn from Him about the discipleship process?
Looking at the life of Jesus, there seem to be six key factors to advancing the kingdom: abiding in Christ, entering new fields of peoples and places, sowing the seed of the gospel, cultivating the growth of the fruit from seed-sowing, gathering the fruit together, and developing leaders throughout the process to do the same. We see these factors over and over throughout the Gospels, and then later in the life of Paul — particularly during his three missionary journeys. This process is not always strictly linear, but it generally flows in the direction of entry, gospel, grow, and gather, with abiding in Christ as the foundation, and leadership development happening throughout.
If this is the pattern of kingdom growth we see in Scripture, then this is the pattern that we need to reproduce in disciple-making. But how? We tell our people often to go and make disciples. While many of them are not necessarily opposed to the idea, they just haven’t seen what it looks like so they are not sure what to reproduce. What if instead of simply telling people to try to reproduce these six factors, we refined and developed rhythms in our churches that acted as pathways for reproducing the kingdom pattern?
One way to think about this is through the entry field. When we encourage someone to make disciples, we usually have in mind that they will start with people they already know like family and friends. However, the entry field is made up of people we know, as well as people we don’t know. An effective strategy churches can implement is to focus on a group of people that is foreign to them. This not only allows them to reach the unreached, but it also models for church members what it means to make disciples for the kingdom, allowing other church members to reproduce the same process with people they do know.
Choose a place (like an apartment complex or a neighborhood), enter that place, build relationships and sow seeds of the gospel, disciple the fruit, and gather the new disciples. This takes time, so create as many opportunities as possible to enable people to be involved in every part of the process. Be patient and watch God work. Then, release people to carry out the same process with others. This is not the only way, but it is a way to push back darkness and advance God’s kingdom wherever God has us.