This title, I am sure, will receive a nod of approval. I believe it will get the normal, “Yes, that is true”, “That is right man”, or even “Absolutely, without that everything falls apart.” Although we say these things and agree with this necessity, the church as a whole tends to not disciple as it should.
Many in the church are too busy to disciple others. Many were never discipled so they think they are not equipped to do so. Both are wrong. It is because of the busyness why we must disciple and do not let your lack of being discipled render you useless to disciple.
The call to discipleship is throughout the Scriptures. We see Joshua being discipled by Moses throughout Exodus to Deuteronomy. Elisha being discipled by Elijah in 1 and 2 Kings. Then in the New Testament, we see the theme throughout the Gospels, Paul’s writings, and the general epistles.
Jesus tells the disciples multiple times to take up their cross and follow Him (e.g., Matt. 10:38; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). This meant that they were to be willing to follow Him whatever came. They were dedicated to following Him and learning. We see in the Gospels that there were many disciples following Jesus (Luke 10:1-23). The number of disciples is not the important aspect here, though. The important aspect is that there were disciples following and learning and growing so they could go and make disciples.
These men did not just follow for no reason, most of them anyway. They followed and learned and went and taught others. Some wrote some of the New Testament and have helped to disciple countless millions over the years. If we had no more of the New Testament we would see that discipleship is very important and something that we should do also.
But, the Gospels are not all we have. We also have the rest of the New Testament. Paul writes of discipleship in several of his letters. In second Timothy we see him telling Timothy to, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (4:2). This is the work that we do in discipleship. We help to train people up in the way of the Lord. It takes work and patience because not all people learn at the same pace.
Even though this is true, we must continue to disciple people. In one other letter, we see Paul telling the young Titus to teach sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). But the list continues of what is to be done. The older men are to train the younger men and the older women are to train the younger women (Titus 2:2-6). If we do not train up the younger generations in the way of godliness, then we cannot be angered when they act ungodly. We can be angry at ourselves, but not them. They are only behaving as they were trained.
So, let us not forsake discipleship. Let us continue to train up younger believers. Let us continue to “Go forth and make disciples of all nations” and “imitate [Paul] as he imitates Christ” (Matt. 28: 19; 1 Cor. 11:1). Because, if we do not disciple them, we can rest assured the world will.