Message selection, for the disciple-maker, is an all-important endeavor. Effective disciple making does not just simply happen. Happenstance cannot be and should not be the modus operandi of one who desires to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People are fragile and the Gospel is powerful. God has entrusted his fragile people with a powerful Gospel message. As people who have been entrusted with such a powerful Gospel, we should do everything within our means to see that it is presented in a positive and successful manner.
Leaving the disciple making process to chance, or to coincidental occurrence, is negligence at best. Reliance on the Holy Spirit in this process, however, is paramount. We will speak to this issue in further detail later on when we talk about inspiration. This short instructional essay will survey and assess the sources, that God has readied the disciple-maker with, to be used in the process of effective disciple making.
Mitchell calls this “The living words of the community”. The primary source for one’s message must be the Bible; this is the tradition of which we speak. For example, few Bible scriptures communicate to the New Testament church like the very words that Jesus spoke. Jesus would use analogous stories to convey his message. These stories are referred to in scripture as parables. The word parable is a transliteration of the Greek word παραβολή (pä-rä-bo-lā'), which literally means to lay one thing beside another. Our Lord would lay beside commonly understood things, from everyday life, a story with a disciple-making message. He would analogize the message he wanted to convey by laying it along side a common thought or well-known narrative. Leroy Eims reminds us that there were intimate times when Jesus would communicate with his disciples without parabolic verbiage, but to everyone outside of the twelve disciples he would communicate only in parables. This example gives us an inside glimpse at how we are to communicate with those we are trying to disciple. Personal intimacy is a great tool for us to use in conveying the tradition that is at the heart of our message. We give the inside scoop to those we value and are close to in the discipleship process. When we care about those we disciple, we will share with them tradition . . .the living words of the community.
The disciple-maker needs to be observant in regards to what is taking place in the lives of those he is trying to reach. Jesus would use his surrounding environment as a tool to teach his disciples. Much of the message that Jesus would convey was centered on the current environment of the learner. Mitchell tells us that exposure to the surroundings and the situations they manifest can be the crux of the message the educator chooses. Environment helps to form our message, if we are observant enough to capture the opportunity. Mitchell speaks of a time when many students of his had all experienced death...