God has called The Bible Church of Little Rock to the indispensable task of discipleship. Both the Old and New Testaments mark out discipleship as a requisite part of ministry-not an option. Jesus, the greatest disciple-maker, from the text of Mark 3:13-15, utilized four reproducible principles in His ministry, which remain equally relevant today. They are prayerful meditation, careful selection, purposeful association, and powerful proclamation. This is the best model for fulfilling our Lord’s Great Commission mandate given in Matthew 28:18-20: ‘Jesus came up and spoke to them [the disciples], 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 the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’.’
The first principle of making and reproducing disciples for Jesus Christ is prayerful meditation, as contained in Mark 3:13a: ‘And He went up on the mountain. . .’ Luke 6:12-13 explains what Jesus was doing on the mountain when it says that ‘He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples to Him.’ The first principle that Jesus employed in the choosing of His own disciples was all-night prayer! The choice was a monumental commitment, and the Lord faithfully bathed His decision in prayer. Any attempt at making disciples of Jesus Christ at The Bible Church of Little Rock must be saturated with prayer. This prayerful meditation includes the initial evangelization of a person to become a disciple of Christ, and their subsequent growth as a disciple. For any success to occur in the church’s ministry of evangelism and discipleship, prayer is foundational.
The second principle of making and reproducing disciples for Jesus Christ is careful selection. Mark 3:13b says, ‘[He] summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.’ It is only by the will of God that anyone becomes a disciple of Christ and that anyone receives discipleship training in Christ (John 1:12; 3:6; 6:44, 63, 65, 70; 8:36; 10:3-4, 16; 15:5, 16; 1 John 4:19). Subject to that same will and choice of God, disciplers should carefully select and disciple those to whom God chooses to impart eternal life. Just as the apostles led the congregation in selecting servants in Acts 6:1-6, so leaders today must carefully select others to nurture and teach for service in the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). In addition, as Paul instructed Timothy to entrust spiritual truth to faithful men, The Bible Church leaders should select such men in whom to reproduce spiritual leadership. As Leroy Eims has wisely said in this regard, ‘Whoever is thinking about or is now involved in a ministry of making disciples. . . should think soberly about this matter of selection. It is much easier to ask a man to come with you than to ask him to leave if you learn, much to your chagrin and sorrow, that you have chosen the wrong man’ (Leroy Eims, The Lost Art of Disciple Making, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1978, p. 29).
The third principle for the discipling and reproducing of disciples of Jesus Christ is purposeful association. Mark 3:14 notes that Jesus ‘appointed twelve, that they might be with Him.’ Mark says very plainly that Jesus Christ appointed His disciples for the very purpose of being with Him. The Greek text contains a purpose clause (hina osin meta autou), which could be translated, ‘for the very purpose,’ or ‘so that,’ or even, ‘with the result,’ ‘they might be with Him.’ The time with Jesus was not only for the purpose of growing and learning under His teaching, but also for fellowship and refreshment through His modeling and example. Thus, effective discipling ministry will be directly related to the time spent between the disciple and discipler. The structure of such times spent together is flexible, of course, but the point is this: One cannot truly influence those with whom he does not spend time. If a discipler is going to reproduce himself in the lives of others, it will result from a purposeful association of spiritual fellowship and biblical nurturing.
The fourth and final principle for the making and reproducing of disciples for Jesus Christ is powerful proclamation. Mark 3:14-15 says that Jesus chose His disciples so ‘that He might send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.’ As Jesus purposed to spend time with His disciples, so He also purposed for them to go out and preach with authority. The same kind of purpose clause as verse 14 is listed here, and shows distinctly that Jesus’ plan was to disciple these men in order to send them out to preach the gospel with power. Although we are not commanded to cast out demons today, we still have the responsibility to preach the gospel with Holy Spirit-wrought power! Discipleship ultimately means that those discipled must go out and preach the authoritative Word of God to others. The Bible Church of Little Rock is committed to evangelize the lost and disciple those who respond to the message of the gospel. Each member of the body has the responsibility to share Christ with those in his or her sphere of influence. Once those whom God chooses respond to that message, we have presently several outlets for the discipleship process including a New Member class, Equipping Hour classes, Care Groups, Women’s ministry discipleship classes, etc. When we are faithfully providing these kinds of teaching ministries which occur in a relational context, only then will we be answering the mandate of our Lord’s Great Commission.