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8 Stages of Disciples


Ever since Greek philosophers, such as Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato trained their apprentices, leaders have long wanted to help their learners make progress – to evolve effectively. Part of that means helping the learner or student know where he or she stands and how he or she is coming along.

Robert Coleman’s “point-on” The Master Plan of Evangelism essentially and succinctly dissected Jesus’ life and then brought it back together again. He accurately identified eight stages Jesus used to make and to equip disciples.

We now discuss and summarize these eight stages.

Selection – People were His method.

Jesus believed that people should reach other people. He could have used an exclusive mix of miracles, or He could have brought everything to conclusion while on earth. Instead, Jesus chose common men and women like us to reach the world. This clearly demonstrates not only His love for us, but also His confidence in us.

Association – Jesus stayed with them.

With the first disciples, the essence of Jesus’ training meant just letting His disciples follow Him. He drew them close to Himself, becoming His own school and curriculum.

Consecration – He required obedience.

Jesus expected His disciples to obey Him. He did not require them to be smart, but He wanted them to be loyal – to the extent that obeying Him became the distinguishing mark they were know by. “Disciples” meant they were the Master’s “learners” or “pupils.” Later Jesus’ disciples became known as “Christians: (Acts 11:26), a befitting description of obedient followers who took on the character of their leader.

Impartation – Jesus gave Himself away.

Jesus gave His disciples everything: what the Father had given Him (John 15:5); His peace (John 16:33); His joy (John 15:11); the keys to His kingdom (Matthew 16:19); and His own glory (John 17:22, 24). He withheld nothing, not even His life.

Demonstration – Jesus showed them how to live.

Jesus showed the disciples how to pray, study, and relate to others. More than 20 times the Gospels recount Jesus’ practice of prayer. He taught His disciples about the use of Scripture by extensively using words from the Old Testament. As the disciples saw Jesus interact with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the rich young ruler, and many others, Jesus showed them how to talk to and how to treat others.

Delegation – Jesus assigned them work.

From day one, Jesus prepared His disciples to take over the mission. He gradually turned over responsibility, sending out the 70 (Matthew 10:1-42) and giving extensive instructions to the 12 (Luke 10:1-20). Jesus told His disciples to follow His methods, practices, and techniques; to expect hardships and adversity, and to go out in pairs. Following His resurrection, Jesus clearly gave His disciples the responsibility to take the gospel to the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

Supervision – Jesus continued to check on them.

When Jesus gave His disciples work to do, He followed up. Jesus listened to their reports and blessed them. When Jesus was with His disciples, He spent time helping them understand the reason for a previous action or preparing them for a whole new experience. Jesus used questions, illustrations, warnings, and admonitions to teach His disciples what they needed to know to reach the entire world.

Reproduction – Jesus expected them to reproduce.

Jesus told His disciples to pray for workers (Matthew 9:36-38), and He called them to teach everyone to obey His teaching (Matthew 28:20). Jesus required the costly components of leadership development and reproduction and expected His disciples to reproduce by finding other disciples who would also follow Jesus.

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