Master Plan to Disciple
Today's post is an adaptation of a book report I did for my MDIV through Liberty University. The book the report was on is The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman. The book was written with the idea of following Jesus and implementing the principles he used when teaching and showing others about the Father. The eight principles that Coleman presented are listed below:
1. Jesus taught those who were willing
2. Jesus associated with those he taught
3. Jesus consecrated those he chose
4. Jesus imparted himself to them
5. Jesus demonstrated how to live
6. Jesus delegated tasks to them
7. Jesus supervised their work
8. Jesus expected them to reproduce his likeness
Why was a book like this needed? Wouldn’t every believer know based on many passages like Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:16, and Acts 1:8. They should, but are they accomplishing their mission? Churches seem to jump from one person’s plan to another. I have read many studies that suggest their plan is better than others.
Coleman’s process is discipleship plain and simple. It starts with choosing those who are willing to learn and moves through the growing process of building disciples until you “set them free.” When a disciple is sent out, their teacher, or master, is expecting them to replicate what they know and have learned. Each step in this plan is taking a step further in the discipleship process.
Although the book was great and should be read by every pastor, if not church leader, let’s step away and see how well the disciples listened and how we can apply these eight principles to the world we live in today. Coleman laid out the process that Jesus did. But, how well did the disciples reproduce His process?
It is clear looking through Acts and the epistles that each disciple strove to do what Jesus did. In Acts chapter 2, the promised comforter comes and enables each of them to speak in tongues. They went out from where they were and preached the gospel to people from multiple nations. They did not force people to listen, but they went out and preached. According to verse 41, about 3,000 souls believed and were baptized that day. When one looks over at 1 Corinthians, the church there in Corinth was divided, some of Apollos, some of Cephas, some of Paul. It is clear that Peter did continue his teaching. Phillip went and preached to an Ethiopian eunuch, and he believed and was baptized.
When reading Paul’s letters, and even in the book of Acts, he continued replicating the process. He discipled Timothy and Titus. He gave of himself to them and also to many churches. He corrected issues that were not honoring Christ. He exhorted them to be better. He delegated tasks. He supervised the work in many situations. He even went and let Timothy do ministry on his own many times.
The process seemed to work for Jesus and his disciples, but would it work for us today? The simple answer is a resounding yes. I would even say it would be easier for us to follow this method than it was for the disciples. We have their testimony and on top of that, we have technology. We can talk to people across the world face to face. We can drive across a large city in no time compared to the time it would take the disciples to get across town. We are able to touch more lives now than ever.
To start the process, we just need to find someone who is teachable. If they do not want to learn then they will not listen and just cause a headache for both parties. We then associate with them. This can be done at church, on Facebook, at a restaurant, or even just walking around a store or helping fix something. We spend time with them. Third, consecrate them. We call them to step out of a normal life and learn the way of the master. This does not mean they are obedient to a creed or statement of faith, but rather that they are obedient to the Son of God.
After that, we spend time imparting ourselves to them. We give them knowledge, help, and ultimately love them the way God would. This means, again look at Jesus, serve them as well. He washed His disciples feet as a servant, what can you do for those you are teaching? The sixth step is to delegate. Let them go accomplish tasks on their own. Paul told many churches “I’m sending [insert name] to you.” Jesus sent his disciples a couple times out to do teaching, gather a donkey, and He also gave them other tasks. That leads to supervision. When Christ sent out the twelve two by two, he did not just send them out and then not check up when they came back. Luke 9:10 says that when the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything that had gone on. He made sure they were good.
Finally, the last step is to reproduce. This means when we have finished teaching them all we can, we send them out. This would be similar to a pastor training a young person for ministry and then when he is ready the pastor tells him to move on. Maybe the person was wanting to lead a church, and the pastor knows he is ready. Maybe it is just time for them to separate for a time. The pastor can still assist in answering questions. He can still mentor. But it is time for the student to have students.
When I was in the Air Force, this is much like what they did. They had someone teach us the job on the ground. Someone else teach us the job in the air. Someone else would evaluate us to make sure we were ready. But even then, after we got to a line squadron, we were still new. Someone else would take us under their wings and teach us how they did things and help us become more proficient. Then one day, they will send us on missions by ourselves. Then, they will train us to train others. They did not want you to pass on your knowledge and skills to the new recruits coming up. That is the same thing we should do when reaching new people, and even discipling anyone.
Thought for this week, who are you discipling? Find someone. Who is your mentor in things of faith? Find one. We are commanded to go, teach, baptize, and make disciples. You cannot do that by keeping to yourself. Spend time with someone who is willing to learn and teach them the ways of God.
Feel free to leave any questions or comments below. Feel free to share as well.