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Making Disciples For the 21st Century

Dr. G. Earl Knight Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventist

The Great Commission :: Matthew 28:18-20 “All authority (power) has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Who is a Disciple?

• One who forsakes all to follow Jesus.

James Montgomery Boice, Christ call to Discipleship, 13.

• One who is willing to be taught, a learner.

Discipleship involves commitment. It involves identification with Christ in His shameful death. Discipleship involves renunciation of oneself… It involves sacrifice for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“It involves surrendering one’s own will and one’s own rights to his life and acknowledging that Jesus Christ has the right to be obeyed, the right to rule. Our Lord said that if a man is not willing to forsake all that he has, he cannot be His disciple.” J. Dwight, Design for Discipleship, 18-19

Disciple - Mathetes (Greek)

A disciple is one who responds in faith and obedience to the gracious call of Jesus. Being a disciple is a lifelong process of dying to self while allowing Jesus Christ to come alive in us.” Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials, 24

“Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other disciples in order to encourage, equip, and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. This includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well.” Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essential, 17

To be a disciple is to be living in relationship with the One who is discipling you. In this relationship one is to be constantly learning more about the person, while at the same time living in subjection to Him. The word does not suggest a rapid conversion to the person, but a slow process by which one is made into a disciple.

Discipleship is the process by which one is led to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, fully committed to a lifelong learning relationship and growing towards maturity in Christ. This includes equipping the disciples to make disciples of others.

The Biblical Picture of Discipleship

Make Disciples Who…


Qualifications of a Disciple • Surrendered to the Lordship of Christ • Love and Concern for people • Holiness • Open and Transparent • Committed Prayer Life

God’s Plan for Growing A Healthy Congregation Exodus 18:17-23 And Moses' father- in- law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

Exodus 18:21-23 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

Division for Effectiveness


1000 100 50


Small Groups Four Functions



The new believers “continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrines”.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:41

Small Groups Four Functions



In response to God’s creative works and in goodness towards His people we lift up His name in praise and thanksgiving. We worship Him because He is worthy.

Small Groups Four Functions



A small group setting that brings the members together will result in a closer community within the body of Christ.

Small Groups Four Functions



A small group must guard against becoming inward. Without outreach the group becomes stagnated and insipid. As we reach inward to maintain our own selves and others within the fold, we must reach out to bring others within the fold; we must reach out to save others from the pitfalls of sin.

Ellen White on Small Groups

“The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One who cannot err.” Testimonies Vol 7, p. 21 “The Sabbath School should be one of the greatest instrumentalities, and most effectual in bringing souls to Christ.” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 11

Ellen White on Small Groups

“The Sabbath School if rightly conducted, is one of God’s great instrumentalities to bring souls to a knowledge of the truth.” Counsels on Stewardship, p. 115

Following Christ’s Method

“Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Savior mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them ‘Follow Me’.” Welfare Ministry, p. 60

Types of Groups

Sharing/Prayer Group The emphasis in this group setting is on sharing experiences of what God has done in their lives and praying for a closer walk with God.

Types of Groups

Bible Study Group The main focus of this group is the study of Scripture and to seek how to apply the Scriptures to their lives. Many of the Bible study groups follow the inductive Bible study method in understanding and applying the Scriptures.

Types of Groups

Nurture Group This group emphasizes fellowship. There are members in our churches that are in need of real fellowship, especially newly-baptized ones or those who are newly-transferred from other churches.

Types of Groups

Support Group A support group focuses on assisting individuals who have particular needs. These individuals have felt needs and need to receive healing, love and warmth. Examples of these needs are single parenting, death, drug abuse, alcohol recovery and divorce.

Types of Groups

Home Fellowship Group A group of people who for various circumstances meet in a home rather than in a church for worship and fellowship. This group may have all the trappings of a church service.

Types of Groups

Outreach Group The emphasis of this group is employing the members’ talents or gifts in the building of the church spiritually and numerically. This group must be students of the Word and diligent spoke-persons for Jesus Christ.

The Empowered


The Empowered Disciples Acts 1:8

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Divine Power Needed

“When Pentecost came to the Apostolic church, three thousand souls were converted in a single day, and the assurance has been given us that the time is coming when there will be as many converted in a day as there were on the day of Pentecost, after the disciples had received the Holy Spirit.” Review and Herald, June 29, 1905

“When we bring our hearts into unity with Christ, and our lives into harmony with His work, the Spirit that fell on the disciples on the day of Pentecost will fall on us.” Testimonies for the Church VIII, p. 246

Lay Involvement is Essential

“The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.” Gospel Workers, p. 352

“Preaching is a small part of the work to be done for the salvation of souls. God’s Spirit convicts sinners of the truth, and He places them in the arms of the church. The ministers may do their part, but they can never perform the work that the church should do.” Testimonies IV, p. 69

Lay Involvement is Essential

“The best help ministers can give the members of our churches is not sermonizing, but planning work for them. Give each one something to do for others. Help all to see that as receivers of the grace of Christ, they are under obligation to work for Him. And let all be taught how to work. Especially should those who are newly come to the faith be educated to become laborers together with God.” Testimonies IX, p. 82

The Effectiveness of Personal Evangelism “One of the most effective ways in which light can be communicated is by private, personal effort. In the home circle, at your neighbor’s fireside, at the bedside of the sick, in a quiet way you may read the Scriptures and speak a word for Jesus and the truth. Thus you may sow precious seed that will spring up and bring forth fruit.” Testimonies VI, p. 428-429

Six Keys to Successful Personal Evangelism 1.

Love for people 2.

Coming close to the people 3.

Making the proper approach 4.

Preparation 5.

Presenting the study 6.

Getting the decision

How new disciples are made: The Oikos Factor OIKOS :: Immediate and extended family Mark 5:19 “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”

The Oikos Factor

Acts 16:31-34 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

Why the Oikos?

Natural Network • Oikos members are receptive • Oikos relationships allows for natural sharing • Oikos relationships effectively assimilate new converts • Oikos relationships tend to win entire families • Oikos relationships provide new contacts

Why People Join THE CHURCH • Family relationships and responsibilities • The influence of Christian people • A church visit – the program, special events • A search for community • A personal crisis

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development Empowering Leadership 1 The ministry of the leaders of the church must focus on equipping other Christians to serve.

Ephesians 4:11-12 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development 2 Gift Oriented Ministry When Christians serve in their area of giftedness they generally function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development 3 Functional Structures Structures must serve the mission of the church.

Mark 2:27 “And He said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development 4 Inspiring Worship Service The worship service of the church must inspire the members. It is the Holy Spirit that inspires people.

1 Timothy 5:16-19

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development 5 Passionate Spirituality The spiritual life of the members must be characterized by prayer, enthusiasm and boldness.

Romans 12:11-12 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.”

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development 6 Holistic Small Group The multiplication of small groups is the most important principle in church growth.

Acts 2:46-47 “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development 7 Need Oriented Evangelism Our evangelistic methods must address the needs of those we are seeking to reach.

1 Corinthians 9:20-22 “And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Eight Quality Characteristics in Natural Church Development 8 Loving Relationship The relationship of the members of the church must be characterized by love and affection.

John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

The Completed Cycle of Disciple-making

Integration of New Members • People should immediately be placed in a small caring group. The small group setting is the best place to nurture discipleship.

• People must enter the church with the understanding that Christ has called them into ministry. They must view their baptism as an ordination into ministry and not just a symbol of forgiveness for sin.

Integration of New Members • People must be led to discover their spiritual gifts.

• People immediately must be led to identify their extended family and begin the disciple-making process within the networks that have been opened by their coming to Christ.

• People must be taught not to depend upon the visitation or sermons from an ordained, salaried pastor as the source of their spiritual life. They must be taught to develop their own study program.