What can you learn from the way Jesus made disciples?

The Jesus way to make disciples always leads to “transformation”. Man and woman were created with a spirit. Jesus understood how the spirit interacts with the mind, and the mind with the body, the body with the social dimension and how these aspects were encapsulated with the  soul.  Dallas Willard created a helpful diagram to illustrate these elements. 

Three ways Jesus engaged people in their spiritual journey:

  1. Jesus used the miraculous to engage people in their spiritual journey.

Think of examples like the Woman at the Well (John 4).

  1. Jesus used stories to engage people through his teaching and preaching to engage people in their spiritual journey.

Think of examples like The Beatitudes (John 5:1-12).

  1. Jesus listened and asked people questions to engage people in their spiritual journey.

Think of examples like: “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)

At the core, making disciples is a relational process, and relationships are built on conversation.   Discipleship conversations move the spiritual journey – either forward by building trust and challenging assumptions or backwards when a question is so powerful that it causes the disciple to “press pause” on their spiritual journey when they are unable or unwilling to follow Jesus. 

Take a moment to reflect on what it means to be a good listener and ask powerful questions, and consider ways to grow and improve.

Making Space

Making the time and space for disciple making relationships. You can intentionally create opportunities “as you go” about your life to allow for conversations of this variety. The opportunities are endless. The grocery store, gas pump or in more relaxed settings like a park or cafe. 

Listening Well

Listening well begins with respect and empathy for the other person. When engaging in a conversation, approach them with curiosity. An open mind. Hold onto your assumptions and judgements. Be aware of what your agenda is and lay it aside.  Be open to the Holy Spirit and His agenda for the other person. 

1. Stop doing anything that distracts from the other person and the conversation. 
2. Switch attention to the needs and preoccupations of the other person.
3. Observe closely, listen carefully and be attentive to non-verbal cues.

Recently my wife and I were going out to dinner with another couple. They are people far from God. As we were taking a stroll before dinner, I remember the conscious shift I recognized I needed to take. I was overly focused on my needs in the moment and forgot about the bigger purpose for our night out together. Once I made the mental, emotional and spiritual shift – I was surprised what happened during our meal together.  Read more below…

Asking Questions 

Listening well is a crucial skill and lets the person you are speaking with know they are seen, safe and heard. You need to be aware of opportunities to ask questions, probing questions  to challenge.  Asking questions allows you to gently encourage exploration. Powerful, open-ended questions elicit thoughtful responses that can’t be answered with “yes” or “no”.

Continuing the story from above. During dinner I remembered the question the Holy Spirit had given me that morning to ask the couple. When I initially asked the question, everyone reacted with a verbal response like “Wow – that is a crazy fun question,” or something to that effect. The actual question is not important. But the reaction and ensuing conversation was amazing. By my estimation, that question opened up the relational flood gates and created a safe place to share personal thoughts to help us understand each other.


1. Use follow-up questions
2. Leverage the power of the pause after asking a powerful question
3. Don’t interrupt

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you rate yourself as a listener?  How would your friends or spouse rate you?? 
  • How are you at asking questions?  What would your friends say?
  • What is the Holy Spirit showing you about how you relate to people?

Key Question: 

  • What changes do you need to make to be more effective at making disciples “as you go”?

Photo by Thanti Riess on Unsplash


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