Making Disciples of Jesus Christ is a process. Too often the church has made discipleship a class, a course, or an event. When we study the ways of Jesus, he moved people through 4 phases.
The 1st Chair: “Come and See”
Jesus invited the curious to come and see what he was all about. John 1:35-46 describes how Jesus used this invitation with Phillip and then how Phillip tried it out on Andrew the next day. The woman at the well invited her whole town to, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Curiosity was piqued and people were invited. It worked for them and it’s still working today.
The 2nd Chair: “Follow Me”
Once they had a chance to see who Jesus was and what he was up to, he invited them to make a commitment to become his followers. John 1:43 describes how he called Phillip to follow him. In Matthew 9:9-10, Matthew tells his own story of how Jesus called him to commit. We share the good news to invite people into the 2nd chair. Once they sit it in (rest their trust in Christ), we build their faith by helping them discover their new identity in Christ so they can learn who God is creating them to be and what God has for them to do… which leads us to the 3rd chair.
The 3rd Chair: “Fish with Me”
Jesus expected his guys to move from merely following him around to actually joining his ministry team! Matthew 4:18-20 shows how early Jesus expressed this! Here’s a bold statement for you: None of Jesus’ mission trips or experiences were designed to change the world. They were all designed to train a small group of followers to change the world! In the church, we need to call people to move from just following and growing to a place of doing. Do this with love. Equip them. Show them how to do ministry. Help them do it. Expect lots of failure. As I often say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” I love to let people try a new ministry and then bail out if it’s not working. Keep trying until you find something that’s a good fit for you!
The 4th Chair: “Go and Bear Fruit”
As we move from one chair to the next, our intimacy with Jesus grows. He called those in the 1st chair lost sheep. He called those in the 2nd chair disciples… in the 3rd chair servants. Finally, in John 15 he calls those in the 4th chair friends. Wow. As we become closer friends with Jesus by walking every step, every moment with him in prayer and in his Word, we can’t help but bear much fruit! Of course, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) describes how our character becomes like his. As that happens, we will bear the other kind of fruit too; Multiplied Disciples of Jesus! I can count the apples on a tree. Try counting the trees in an apple! God wants to multiply Jesus people through YOU! This is how we continue the mission of Jesus in the world.
Which chair are you in?
How can you help someone move from one chair to the next this month?
By the way, read Dann Spader’s book, Four Chair Discipling. I’ve been teach these four phases for many years, but Dann’s recent book sums it all up wonderfully!