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Classic Discipleship

Introduction to Classic Discipleship


We may rightly assume that when the twelve Apostles were first recruited by our Lord to be trained by Him, they had no idea what was before them, neither the severe trials nor the intense blessings. All but one, Judas, would be faithful to the end to spread the gospel of salvation by grace through faith. Sometimes stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, mocked, and banished, they continued in their obedience to the call of their Master to disciple the nations. City by city and nation by nation, they preached and taught in the synagogues, arenas, marketplaces, and homes, then instructed the converted in the words and ways of Jesus.

They had been well prepared. These untrained and uneducated students (Acts 4:13) had become like their Master. It is not surprising, then, that their mission was not only centered on winning the masses, but on following Jesus’ method of working with a few who, in time, would become spiritual reproducers themselves. For instance, Paul discipled Timothy, Titus, and Barnabas; Peter trained John Mark; and John personally discipled the Christian leader and martyr Polycarp (A.D. 70-156). So effective was their training and reproductive strategy, that the gospel spread to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Today, the gospel continues to be proclaimed around the world from pulpits, stadiums, and homes; in villages, rural areas, or densely populated cities; by pastors, evangelists, missionaries, films, and an equipped laity. Much is being done to win the masses. But we must not forget, nor ignore, Jesus’ strategy for winning the world.

We are glad you are here to join us in our quest to learn how to disciple others in more effective and fruitful ways. It is our prayer that you will be challenged and refreshed spiritually during our time together - and better equipped to become spiritual reproducers.

About the Title: Classic Discipleship

In literature, the word classic means “a literary or artistic work generally recognized as of the highest excellence,” although Mark Twain quipped that a classic is “a book that people praise and don’t read.” As one reflects on the literature of the last 2,000 years, it doesn’t take long to recall some of the great works like Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, or John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

What, however, do we mean when we use the word classic to describe discipleship? Our initial assistance in finding an answer to this question comes from the dictionary. The first definition of the word classic is “of the highest class; most representative of the excellence of its kind; having recognized worth.” When Jesus called and trained the Twelve to be His Apostles, He modeled the highest form of disciplemaking. In fact, it was discipleship to perfection. The Twelve were certainly not perfect, but Jesus’ methods of preparing them for the great work of the apostleship were.

When so many have abandoned Jesus’ model and methods for expanding and building His kingdom, our title is a reminder for us to study and practice His ways.

About This Training

An 18th century author of a book on naval strategy wrote, “When you are trying to accomplish something you should first decide what is the final objective you are seeking to attain, and then never lose sight of it.”

Three primary objectives to have in mind for this course:

1. To Glorify God

“The Apostle Peter wrote, ‘So that in all things God may be glorified’ (I Peter 4:11). The glory of God is a silver thread that ought to run through all of our actions. ‘Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God’ (I Cor. 10:31). Every natural and manmade substance has some established purpose. So, as rational creatures, men and women must ascribe some purpose to themselves, and that should be to lift up God in the world. It would be better for a man to lose his life than to lose the reason for which he lives. Let us assert this great truth: the purpose of every man’s life should be to glorify God. When we glorify God, we show respect to all the persons of the Trinity. We respect God the Father who gave us life; God the Son who gave His life for us; and God the Holy Spirit who produces a new life in us. We must bring glory to the whole Trinity.”

2. To Learn How Christ Trained the Twelve

We believe Jesus gave His church the most effective model by which the gospel could be spread to all the nations of the world. His training of the twelve Apostles, as presented in the four Gospels, established the principles and methods by which we may be successful in fulfilling the Great Commission.

3. To Learn How to Disciple Others

According to Jesus, the exponential growth of the Kingdom of God would come about as His followers obediently carried the gospel to the ends of the earth in the power of the Holy Spirit. As more and more believers learn how to disciple others in the words and ways of Christ, multiplied laborers are prepared for the harvest.

Content downloads

Classic Discipleship is specifically designed to help Christians obey the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and bear much fruit. Since each section builds upon the previous one, it is recommended that you begin with the Introduction and methodically move through the material at your own pace. If you are planning to teach this course in a small or large group setting, each person is encouraged to download the material, study the concepts, and attend each training session in order to become more proficient in the discipling process.

For additional literature on discipleship, please download Part XI: Bibliography. There are 44 titles listed – some of the best in the field.

Content Student Guide Answer Guide
Classic Discipleship Table of Contents Download PDF
Introduction to Classic Discipleship Download PDF
Part I, Unearthing Historic Discipleship Download PDF Download PDF
Part II, Clarifying Your Vision Download PDF Download PDF
Part III, Preparing to Lead Download PDF
Part IV, Becoming a Small Group Architect Download PDF
Part V, Selecting Your Curriculum Download PDF Download PDF
Part VI, Forming Your Group Download PDF
Part VII-a, Approving the Blueprint Download PDF
Part VII-b, Approving the Blueprint - Invitation Download PDF
Part VIII, Building Mature Disciples Download PDF
Part IX, Understanding Small Groups Download PDF
Part X, Evaluating Progress Download PDF
Part XI, Bibliography Download PDF

Classic Discipleship: Spanish Version

Content Student Guide
Índice Download PDF
Introducción Download PDF
Seccion 1: Desenterrando el discipulado histórico Download PDF
Seccion 2: Clarificando Tu Visión Download PDF
Seccion 3: Preparándote para Liderar Download PDF
Seccion 4: Convirtiéndote en el Arquitecto de tu Grupo Pequeño Download PDF
Seccion 5: Seleccionando Tu Currículum Download PDF
Seccion 6: Formando Tu Grupo Download PDF
Seccion 7a: Aprobando el Proyecto Download PDF
Seccion 7b: Invitación Download PDF
Seccion 8: Formando Discípulos Maduros Download PDF
Seccion 9: Entendiendo a los grupos pequeños Download PDF
Seccion 10: Evaluación del progreso Download PDF
Seccion 11: Bibliografía Download PDF

Classic Discipleship: Marathi Version the official language of Maharashtra State of India)

This translation was made possible by Nitin Sardar and his team at Dinbandhu Ministries (Friends of the Poor) in India, and Ric Tomlinson of Atlanta, Georgia.

Content Student Guide
Cover and Introduction Download PDF
Section 1, Part 1 Download PDF
Section 1, Part 2 Download PDF
Section 2 Download PDF
Section 3 Download PDF
Section 4 Download PDF
Section 5 Download PDF
Section 6 Download PDF
Section 7 Download PDF
Section 8 Download PDF
Section 9 Download PDF
Section 10 Download PDF