Discipleship Building Blocks
Disciples of Jesus don’t just believe or follow – they do. They’re intent on learning about Jesus, obeying Jesus, and so much more importantly, becoming like Jesus. That’s right, we’re supposed to be teaching, praying, serving, helping, and doing the will of the Father – just like Jesus did.
One major focus Jesus had was the making of disciples. To be a disciple of Jesus means that, like Jesus, you’re intentionally involved in making disciples…who in turn will make other disciples. But of course, you can’t make a disciple if you’re not first a disciple yourself, right?
Did you know that we are told to “make disciples,” not just believers or followers of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20)? Being a believer in Jesus is a necessary starting point, and being a follower of Jesus is good next step, but if you want to be all that Jesus wants you to be, then you need to consider doing the things necessary to become a disciple of Jesus.
One way to look at discipleship is to see it as an apprenticeship relationship. Just as an apprentice learns his trade from a master craftsman so he or she can one day be a master craftsman who can train an apprentice, a person who wants to be a disciple of Jesus learns from a disciple of Jesus so he or she can in turn make disciples – who can go on to multiply even more disciples.
The 16 Building Blocks
Come on Board
Learn the Ropes
Join the Crew - Connect
Set Sail - Impact
"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher." Luke 6:40
The followers of Jesus were all called his disciples. That’s 100% true. However, it’s equally true that the followers of Jesus were called to be fully trained disciples of Jesus and go on to make disciples (Mt 28:18-20; Luke 6:40). While that’s biblically correct, the reality is that many Christians wear the label of “disciple” but aren’t really doing discipleship. Why is that? It’s partly because everyone else is wearing that label so they think it’s quite normal to simply “follow” Jesus and partly because they’ve never been trained to make disciples. That’s right, making disciples doesn’t come naturally or with age; it only comes about with motivation, intentionality and training.
Here’s what many Christians think discipleship is:
Pastoral care. This is a when you get together with someone – regularly or on occasion – to pray with each other, to read your Bibles together, and generally care for each other over a cup of coffee or tea (1 Thes 5:11). This is great! It’s shepherding and showing love at its finest. Keep doing stuff like this.
Teaching. This is when you take a class or meet with someone to gain knowledge of the Word, will, and ways of God (2 Tim 2:2). We’re supposed to be increasing in knowledge, so of course, this is a really good thing. There are always more things to learn, so keep doing this too.
Evangelism. This is when you’re sharing the gospel with non-believers with the hope that they come to faith in Jesus (Mt 4:19). Yes, yes, yes, everyone should be doing this, so don’t stop!
Mentoring: This is really about growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pt 3:18). Typically, this involves a more mature Christian taking the time (often many years) to pour his or her life into a younger believer to help him or her mature in faith. This is rich and amazing and really just doesn’t happen often enough. If you’re in this type of relationship, treasure it.
While the above four views of discipleship are filled with love, care and encouragement as well a desire to pass on knowledge, wisdom and experience (which are all absolutely great things), none of them actually has as its focused and intentional goal the making of a disciple who will then go on to make other disciples. If you’ve been involved in one of these relationships or activities ask yourself this question, “Whom have I trained to be a disciple and did they ever actually go on to make another disciple…who went on to make yet another disciple?” If you’re like many Christians, you’ll have trouble coming up with any names. But that can change!
Here’s what the Propel 16 Block Discipleship Program is:
And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Mt 13:52
You can think of the Propel 16 Block Discipleship Program sort of like military boot camp training – but there’s no drill sergeant, no running and you don’t have to shave your head. The Propel Discipleship Program is a one-on-one relationship where two Christians go over the basic discipleship building blocks together with the goal of learning how to be a disciple and then actually making a disciple. It covers sixteen essential topics and gives you practical tasks to complete along the way. It consists of four modules, Come on Board, Learn the Ropes, Join the Crew, and Set Sail, each building on the one before it. The final step in the program is when you’re involved in actually making a disciple.
Another way to look at Propel is to liken it to the process of becoming an Eagle Scout. One of the Boy Scout requirements to be an Eagle Scout is to complete twenty-one merit badges. In a way, each of the sixteen discipleship building blocks of Propel is like a merit badge. To get the “merit badge,” you need to learn about something (a certain Christian discipline), be able to do it and then be able to train someone else to do it. At the end, you don’t become an Eagle Scout, but you will be well on your way to becoming a fully trained disciples of Jesus.
And finally, you could look at Propel as the laying of a foundation of a house. In this case, there are sixteen foundational stones that need to be set for you to start building your house. Without each of them being properly set, your spiritual foundation will end up being a bit shaky. However, if you give care to each one, your spiritual house will be well grounded, which will allow you to build your house up by making disciples for the furtherance of the kingdom of God.
And that’s it?
Okay, so once you complete the Propel: 16 Block Discipleship Program, will you be a fully trained disciple? No you won’t. But you will be trained enough to start making disciples for Jesus Christ. And at its core, that’s really what discipleship is all about. Be encouraged to know that you don’t have to know everything to start off; you just need to know the essentials. And finally, keep in mind that discipleship isn’t a program in which you check sixteen boxes to complete and then you’re done; rather it’s a rich, rewarding and repeating process that will take your entire lifetime to complete.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20