Discipleship in Distance and Depth

Matthew 28:18–20

Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  

  • The main charge: disciple
  • Two aspects: baptize and teach
  • Baptize means more than mentor
  • Teach means more than convert
  • Consider what “the disciples” thought about discipling

Disciplemaking means evangelism and mentorship. Conversion and counsel. Distance means bring into the church. Depth means grow in the context of the church.

By “discipling,” we are not referring merely to personal sanctification, but to the method for pursuing Christian maturity. Discipleship, according to Allen Hadidian, is 

“the process by which a Christian with a life worth emulating commits himself for an extended period of time to a few individuals who have been won to Christ, the purpose being to aid and guide their growth to maturity and equip them to reproduce themselves in a third spiritual generation.” (Discipleship [Chicago: Moody Press, 1979], 29)


  1. The Content of Disciplemaking
  2. The Intent of Disciplemaking
  3. The Context of Disciplemaking

1) The Content of Disciplemaking: The Gospel 

2 Timothy 1:8–2:1
Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. . . . 1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus . . .

1 Timothy 1:11
[Sound doctrine is that which is] in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

1 Timothy 1:18
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.

1 Timothy 6:20
O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.

2) The Context of Disciplemaking: Relationship

Mark 3:14
And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach…

Luke 9:18
Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him.

1 Thessalonians 2:4-8
Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

1 Thessalonians 3:6–10
But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

3 John 2–4
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

1 Thessalonians 2:19–20
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

3) The Intent of Disciplemaking: Multiplication

2 Timothy 2:2
. . . and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Philippians 3:17
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Philippians 4:8–9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

1 Corinthians 4:15–17
For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

1 Corinthians 11:1
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

We must decide where we want our ministry to count—in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of our lives in a few chosen people who will carry on our work after we have gone. Really it is a question of which generation we are living for.
— Robert Coleman