iStock_000014731095SmallLet’s say you are a draftsman, and an aspiring architect. Let’s say an established and highly respected architect asks you to join his team; that he has seen your work and would like to train you to take over his firm. Without hesitation, you drop what you are doing and follow him; for this is your heart’s desire.

Time goes by. You spend three and one-half years with him, being made into the architect that he desire you to be. Then the day arrives for his retirement. With the authority vested in him as the owner of said firm, he commissions you to carry on his good work; work that he has promised will be greater than anything you have seen to date. What do you do next?

Do you go back to being a draftsman? Do you limit yourself to drawing preliminary or conceptual plans? Do you start creating paintings of buildings?

Do you do anything but the work he has trained, and commissioned, you to do?

Do you settle for less because it’s easier being something less than an architect?

To some, these questions will seem silly; even a waste of time. I wish they were. I wish they were not relevant to our current situation. I wish the Western church had not settled for less. I wish we knew what it meant to be fishers of men; and were about doing the business to which we had been commissioned.

Regrettably, we (leaders of the Western church) have altered the definitions to make being a disciple easier on everyone.

What has Happened to Us?

At some point in the relatively recent past, being a fisher of men has been equated to being an evangelist. When and how did this happen? I am no expert in the history of the Western church, but I have some thoughts on the subject. There’s probably more to this – and I invite your comments.

From my perspective, two forces met to create this phenomenon. The first was the crusade movement, where counting commitment cards became the measure of success. This transferred to the mega-church movement in the late 21st Century. Don’t think so. Then ask yourself, what is the first (or second) question most often asked about a church? It is always some form of “how big”, right?

Now, it is important to point out that, in and of themselves, crusades and mega-churches are not bad things to have. It is the focus on counting that took us sideways; particularly when we began making it “easier” to follow Jesus Christ – to be a disciple. Somewhere in the mix, the necessity for making disciples took a back seat.

Granted, most everyone knows that Jesus said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” They just don’t understand what that means. They have not considered (or were not taught) that Jesus would not make them for anything less than His intended commissioning. Does anything else make sense?

Think about it. Is fishing just a matter of pulling in a net? What do you do with the fish once you get them in the boat? Are they just left to lay there and die? I am not suggesting we fry up a bunch of new converts. The point is: There is more to do. There is a process; and there is a promise.

I Will Make You

Jesus promised to make everyone of His followers into a disciple maker. We are not called to make ourselves. It is a mystery to explore at another time; but take my word for it: Jesus made the first disciples, and then used them as instruments of righteousness to make the next generation; and the next; and so on.

He is still our disciple maker; and this thing that seems so hard for us is not that hard for Him. It is one of the main things He was sent to do; and to be.

His “Other” Mission

Have you ever considered that Jesus could have died, been buried and rose again in less than a week? That is all the time it would have taken for Him to accomplish what many believe to be His only mission. So why was He about the Father’s business for more than three years (John 17:4)? It is simple: Because death, burial and resurrection was not His only mission.

Jesus Christ also came to show His disciples how we should live in the kingdom of God. Having completed that work, He commissioned them to do the same:

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

Notice that Jesus was sent by the Father. This may be news to some. It may also be surprising that we are sent as the Father sent Him. Recognizing the deeper meaning of this, A. W. Tozer said, “Only a disciple can make a disciple.” Tozer understood – as we must – that Jesus was not only the first disciple maker…

Jesus was also the first real disciple!

Let that sink in for a minute. As the first real disciple, Jesus is the One we can and should look to as our example. He was a disciple – and He made disciples – God’s way. Check out Disciple Making God’s Way to find out more.

The Master’s Disciples

One of Jesus’ primary missions was to show us how to be disciples that make disciples. He did exactly what He expects of us. If we are to be productive disciples in the kingdom of God, we must become like Him. He made this clear in a number of ways. First, He told them directly:

It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. Matthew 10:25a

We must not confuse “disciple” for “student”. “Disciple” is much closer in meaning to our understanding of “apprentice”. For example, a disciple spends considerable time with his teacher (versus visiting a classroom once a week). A disciple’s intention was to become like his teacher – to take on the teacher’s lifestyle and character.

An apprentice also expected to be made into a man that would, so to speak, carry on his Master’s “trade”. And that is what Jesus does with His disciples; with one significant distinction. Jesus did not commission the disciples to make disciples of themselves, but disciples like them – those that would “observe all things that I have commanded you”. Today’s disciple-makers are called to the very same commission.

The Great Commission

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

In closing, let me leave you with two additional encouragements about The Great Commission. First, you will not appreciate the impact of Jesus’ statement in verse 18 until you watched a video by Francis Chan, entitled The Purpose of Your Life. I encourage you to watch it for the full impact. Here’s what it meant to me:

If I really believe that Jesus has been given ALL authority;

And I really believe that He has commissioned me to make disciples;

Why would I do anything else; or anything less?

Secondly, the Matthew account of The Great Commission is only a part of what Jesus had to say to His disciples (including us). The others are found in Mark 16:14-20, Luke 24:44-53, John 20:19-23, and Acts 1:4-8. Read these and you will see why His commission is so great. Check out Marketplace Ministry Formation for more.


The key to Disciple Making God’s Way is walking as the Lord Jesus walked. Not “trying” to walk as He walked; nor walking something like He walked. It is not about imitating His life. It is about allowing His life to do what It naturally does, in the work we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

How He walked is carefully recorded in the Gospels. It was a walk of surrender, sacrifice and submission to the will and work of His Father. We can do no less and still call ourselves His disciples.

Making disciples has been called the Great Commission for a reason. It is filled with the greatness of the Lord’s purpose, plan and power for ministry. Through it, God’s children involve themselves in the greatness of God’s story; His Way, Truth and Life greatly impact the world – for His great glory, name and kingdom.

But this is only possible if we are fishers of men in the way God intends.


If you are a Marketplace Leader, then you are called to make disciples. To whom much is given, much is expected. You are expected to understand your commission and carry it out to the best of your ability. Most of the work will be His, for He will get the glory. Our responsibility is to choose and passionately pursue His way, His truth, and His life; and to share what we have with others.


  1. Review your notes and the Scripture passages from this week’s module. Share the ones that are most meaningful with someone in your sphere of influence.
  2. How does this understanding of “disciple” changed your perspective of your relationship with Jesus Christ? How does this impact the disciple making God is doing in you? How does this impact the disciple making God is doing through you?
  3. Discover who God has commissioned you to disciple with the Sphere of Influence Tool.

Recommended Reading

The following are some of my favorite books on this subject. Most can be found at your local Christian book store, or at one of the many online distributors.

  1. The Cost of Discipleship; Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  2. The Normal Christian Life; Watchman Nee

Humbly yours and forever His,