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 considering making a commitment to study the process by which Jesus
trained the Twelve, transforming and sanctifying their characters, equipping them with new skills
for ministry, and teaching them everything they needed to know about the Father and the Holy
Spirit. It is our prayer that the Lord will help you learn how to disciple others in more effective
and fruitful ways so that you will be able to become spiritual reproducers – discipling others,
who will be able to disciple others, who will be able to disciple others (II Tim. 2:2).

Classic Discipleship

Classic Discipleship: Spanish Version

Classic Discipleship: Marathi Version 

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 60 titles listed – some of the best in the field.

Click on the chapters below to download.

Classic Discipleship Table of Contents

Introduction to Classic Discipleship

Part I, Unearthing Historic Discipleship

Part I, Unearthing Historic Discipleship – Answer Guide

Part II, Clarifying Your Vision

Part II, Clarifying Your Vision – Answer Guide

Part III, Preparing to Lead

Part IV, Becoming a Small Group Architect

Part V, Selecting Your Curriculum

Part V, Selecting Your Curriculum – Answer Guide

Part VI, Forming Your Group

Part VII-a, Approving the Blueprint

Part VII-b, Approving the Blueprint – Invitation

Part VIII, Building Mature Disciples

Part IX, Understanding Small Groups

Part X, Evaluating Progress

Part XI, Bibliography

Classic Discipleship: Spanish Version

Click on the additional resources below to download.



Seccion 1: Desenterrando el discipulado histórico

Seccion 2: Clarificando Tu Visión

Seccion 3: Preparándote para Liderar

Seccion 4: Convirtiéndote en el Arquitecto de tu Grupo Pequeño

Seccion 5: Seleccionando Tu Currículum

Seccion 6: Formando Tu Grupo

Seccion 7a: Aprobando el Proyecto

Seccion 7b: Invitación

Seccion 8: Formando Discípulos Maduros

Seccion 9: Entendiendo a los grupos pequeños

Seccion 10: Evaluación del progreso

Seccion 11: Bibliografía

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.

Cover and Introduction

Section 1, Part 1

Section 1, Part 2

Section 2

Section 3

Section 4

Section 5

Section 6

Section 7

Section 8

Section 9

Section 10