Christ had a pattern/process for building disciples that can serve as the basis for a contemporary disciple building approach. Jesus had a plan for accomplishing His disciple building training, and that plan was transferred to His apostles. Christ’s disciple building included more than evangelistic reproduction; it involved the development of character and followed a pattern that produced gradual growth and maturation.
The Five Phases of Disciple Building
Growth does not occur overnight. Just as a newborn baby develops gradually and only after much nourishment and the proper care, so it is with the “babe” in Christ—the new Christian. We should expect to drink milk before we can eat meat, and to crawl before we can walk. God understands this better than we do, and He patiently works with us as He conforms us to the image of His Son. Again, we see this principle illustrated in the approach Christ took with His disciples.
Christ was deliberate in the way that He related to and worked with His disciples. Because each of the Gospel writers recorded the life of Christ from his own perspective, it can be difficult to see a pattern simply by reading through the New Testament. But a Harmony of the Gospels (a chronological combination of all 4 gospels) reveals that Jesus taught His disciples things that were appropriate for each phase of growth, and that He moved them through successive phases. It is also clear that Jesus intended this pattern to be repeated. Before His return to heaven, He commanded His followers to make disciples in all nations, teaching the same things He had taught.