Interview with Doug Erdmann
Doug is a GBC member and the National Director of The Navigators Singapore. We asked him to share with us why discipling is so important in God's kingdom and simple steps that everyone can take everyday, either to be a discple of Christ, or to disciple someone to follow Christ.
1. What is making disciples? Why is it so important in the kingdom of God?
Making disciples is, with intentionality, developing people who believe what Jesus believes, have the character that Jesus has, and do what Jesus does. Making disciples is important for at least two reasons. (1) We're commanded to do so. The final and Great Commission that Jesus gave us was to "make disciples." (Mt. 28:19) (2) It is the most effective way to fulfill that Great Commission. Great music, great teaching and great facilities are attractive. But there is nothing so powerful, and nothing more attractive to non-Christians, than someone who actually resembles Jesus.
2. Where do we see practical examples of disciplemaking in the Bible?
Jesus is the greatest example of disciplemaking. He shared the Good News broadly, but he spent an inordinate portion of his 3 years of ministry focusing on 12 men. He lived with them, so that they could see how he acted. He taught them what they should believe, and how that should act. He brought them along when he did ministry, so that they could see how it was done. Jesus's model was to "bless the many, but invest in the few."
3. What kind of training and preparation is necessary for disciplemaking? What does someone need to know in order to get started in disciplemaking?
To be a disciplemaker, someone must of course be a disciple themselves. Second, they need to have a plan as to what they will do. A good initial plan is to get the prospective disciple involved in the "Basics" as shown in the Wheel Illustration (i.e., the Word, Prayer, Fellowship and Witnessing). How will one do this? A Sunday service, and a group Bible study are important. But one-on-one times are also needed. This of course requires knowledge of how to have one-on-one times. (A very good Bible study that teaches how to disciple through one-on-one meetings is "The Adventure of Discipling Others," available from The Navigators.)
4. Just to give us an idea - describe the 24 hrs of a discipler on a given weekday.
The day begins with a Quiet Time. (See Jesus' example in Mk. 1:35). Next, assuming this is a workday, the discipler does a good job at his work. (Col. 3:23, 24) This makes him attractive to prospective disciples. Throughout the day the discipler acts as Jesus would with all he comes in contact with (e.g., being patient, encouraging, affirming). Finally, the discipler uses free time (such as meal times) to engage with people. Meal times are ideal to develop friendships with non-Christians, or to have a one-on-one discipling time with a Christian.
5. What would you recommend for someone to do if they wanted to get started in discipling someone else?
First, pray for a "FAT" person (faithful, available, teachable). Not every Christian wants to be discipled. Pray for someone who does! Second, recruit prospects. This does not mean asking someone if they would like to be discipled by you forever and ever! Better to say, for example, "I have this book called Lessons on Assurance which I've found very helpful. It has 5 short chapters. Would you like to get together over lunch once a week for the next 5 weeks to study it with me?" (This kind of question is helpful because it lets the prospective disciple know what you want to do, and it gives a limited duration to the activity. You can always continue your meetings if the person wants to.)
Doug (far right) and his family