5 Sermon Illustrations on Discipleship

Disciples are people who follow a leader’s teaching and example. As Christians, we are disciples of Christ. We study Scripture to learn who Jesus is and what He expects of us. Like the disciples who sat at His feet, we learn about Christ’s ministry to carry on His mission. Here are some examples to use when challenging Christians to live as disciples:

The Examples of Christian Leaders

Henrietta Mears’ Bible class at Hollywood Presbyterian drew as many as 500 college students. Dissatisfied with published curriculum, she wrote her own and eventually founded Gospel Light Publications. The title of her biography, “Dream Big,” illustrates her approach to life. Rather than let those involved in the entertainment industry intimidate her, she led many entertainers to the Lord. Bill Bright and Billy Graham were among those she nurtured in the faith.

And those men in turn dreamed big and became giants in the faith. Bill Bright founded Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU), an organization committed to fulfilling the great commission, and Billy Graham’s career as an evangelist has touched countless lives. The legacy of these three Christians illustrates discipleship at its finest. Just as Mears invested time and energy to bring people to Christ and grow in Christian maturity, Bright and Graham carried that ministry forward in their own lives. And they pass that ministry on to us.

The Example of Jesus

Charles Monroe Sheldon (1857 – 1946) was a minister in the Congregational church who preached a series challenging his congregation to consider what Jesus would do under certain circumstances. He then wrote the novel In His Steps based on those sermons. The story involved characters faced with moral choices who made decisions according to what Jesus would have done. In our day we have WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets that we wear as reminders to consider how Jesus would react to everyday circumstances. As disciples of Jesus, we want to make choices as Jesus would. Next time you’re faced with a moral choice, ask yourself: What would Jesus do? That is the response of any true disciple.

An Example from the Prophets

In 1 Kings 19:16 God told Elijah to anoint Elisha to succeed him as prophet, and succeeding verses tell how Elisha turned from the plow to follow the prophet. When Elijah was taken into heaven, Elisha carried on his ministry. We too can influence people to walk in our footsteps as Christians. Titus 2:3-4 encourages older women to train younger women.  And men too need role models, especially those without father figures in their lives. In our day, that’s called mentoring or discipling.

Elisha would not have known how a prophet lived if he had not spent time with Elijah. How are young men and women today to know how a Christian lives if they do not spend time with mature Christians? Some schools, churches and community organizations offer opportunities to serve as mentors. And associations may naturally spring up as you get to know neighbors and people in your congregation. A life well-lived at any age has much to offer. Don’t keep it to yourself. Our society needs men and women who have the courage to make moral choices based on Scripture and live out Christian principles in visible ways that touch the lives of others.

Examples of Every Day Discipleship

Parenting offers ideal opportunities to practice discipleship. In fact, scripture commands it. Read Deuteronomy 5:6-9 to learn how God challenged the Israelites to build the faith of their children. They were to talk about their faith, keep symbols of faith visible in their homes and even write commands on their doorframes. As parents, we make disciples around the dinner table as we discuss with children the events of the day and consider whether our reactions reflected biblical principles. We might even schedule a devotional time where we read scripture and discuss how it applies, according to the ages of our children. We make disciples as we carry on daily lives based on honesty and integrity. Our language, our decisions and our attitudes all show our children what it means to honor God. And we pray our children will be drawn to lead a similar lifestyle as they mature. That’s discipleship.

The Example of Paul for Christian Leaders

The apostle Paul studied under Gamaliel, a revered rabbi. The teaching about the law that Paul  received led him to become zealous for the law, so zealous that he persecuted Christians who preached salvation by Christ. Such is the influence of a teacher upon his students, the influence of one who disciples upon the disciple. Paul was a disciple of Gamaliel—until Christ showed Paul the better way. Pastors, Sunday school teachers and Bible study leaders influence students (disciples) as they interpret Christian doctrine. This is why it’s imperative for leaders to prepare well. In fact, scripture warns us “Not many of you should become teachers . . . because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1 NIV 2011) If you are a leader, do you see your attitudes reflected in those you lead? If you are a learner, are you reflecting the attitudes of your Christian leaders?


Discipleship is costly. It requires the one leading to be well versed in scripture and to lead an exemplary life. None of us ever reach perfection, but all of us are called to move from learners to leaders. Are you ready to lead or do you need to spend more time as a disciple?


Shirley Brosius is a former director of Christian education who enjoys writing devotionals and newspaper articles. She also speaks as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages and skits at women’s retreats and events. Shirley coordinates the women’s ministry and the nurture committee at First United Methodist Church in Millersburg, Pennsylvania. She can also be found online at www.shirleybrosius.com.

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How to Teach Others to Follow Jesus

Many people “follow” others on Facebook, but statistics indicate many people are not “following” the church. According to an article in Church Leaders, an online publication, less than 20 percent of Americans regularly attend church.

If people are not coming to church to hear pastors and teachers, we must teach people about Jesus outside church doors, through everyday relationships. Here’s how:

God’s Word to Us

Biographers teach us about people from prior generations by writing their stories. Those inspired by God down through the ages wrote about Jesus; their writings form the Bible. Offer to partner with someone to study God’s Word. The gospel of John presents Jesus as God’s Son and tells about the miraculous signs he performed while on earth. Read and discuss a chapter a week with someone who wants to grow as a Christian and be discipled.

Form a small group Bible study with friends or colleagues. Work through scripture, such as the gospel of John, chapter-by-chapter or follow a study guide that focuses on Jesus’ teaching, such as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.

Partner with someone to hold each other accountable to read through the Bible in a year. Do a Google search for a daily reading plan and call or meet weekly to discuss passages covered. Less mature Christians will be fascinated to learn how Old Testament prophets spoke about Jesus as the coming Savior.

God’s Spirit in Us

As the saying goes: More is caught than taught. As we allow God’s Spirit to control our lives, we will respond to life situations as Jesus would. We demonstrate patience. We respond with kindness. We show compassion to those in need. And as others observe us, they learn how to follow Jesus.

Jesus modeled a life of prayer, so we will spend daily time in prayer . . . and let others know we’re praying for them. Even better, pray with others as they express needs and face life’s challenges. Even unbelievers appreciate prayers for their needs.

God gives each Christian spiritual gifts to use to build up other Christians. Exercise your gifts in a loving way and help others to discover their gifts. If they relate well to children, suggest they teach Sunday school or Junior Church. If they gravitate to teens, they might become youth leaders. Those with leadership abilities might serve on church boards or lead committees. In any of these roles they will be stretched and challenged to grow in their faith.

Mentoring and discipleship relationships offer a great venue to teach others about Jesus. If you’re married, you and your husband might take a newlywed couple under your wing. Mature Christians might mentor new or younger Christians. Just decide how often you want to meet and what you want to focus on.

You might pursue a shared interest, such as antiquing, read and discuss Christian books chapter-by-chapter or even serve together by visiting shut-ins or by helping at a local mission. As we get to know people and share how God has worked good out of bad situations in our lives, we prepare them for life’s journey. That’s mentoring and discipleship.

God’s Opportunities around Us

Religious holidays offer tailor-made opportunities to teach others about following Jesus. Let your Christmas cards celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by featuring manger scenes or other religious symbols. Invite others to join you in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Introduce them to God’s people, and let them observe the corporate joy of worship. After all, Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine happened at a wedding celebration.

Give gifts that express your faith. Subscribe to devotional magazines for family members and friends. Buy books for others that deal with challenges they face.

Suggest websites and blogs that others may follow to draw daily inspiration. Send cards when people fall ill and encouraging notes when they face struggles. Call, text, email. Keep in touch regularly so that as opportunities to speak of Christ arise, you have built a relationship and can easily converse.

Take someone to a Christian conference or invite them to a simulcast at your church. Hearing inspirational stories of courage and survival reinforces what we hear in our own circles.


We rub shoulders daily with people who need to know Jesus or need to be taught what it means to follow Him and grow as Christians. Some people have a knack for bringing God into conversations. Some of us have to work harder at it. But God needs all of us to represent him. He has no hands and feet here on earth except ours.

By faithfully living according to God’s Word, we model what it means to follow Jesus. And by keeping our eyes and ears open, we find daily opportunities to teach others of Jesus through our words and actions.

Shirley Brosius is a former director of Christian education who enjoys writing devotionals and newspaper articles. She also speaks as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages and skits at women’s retreats and events. Shirley coordinates the women’s ministry and the nurture committee at First United Methodist Church in Millersburg, Pennsylvania. She can also be found online at www.shirleybrosius.com.


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Who cares about making disciples?

Jesus said it: “go and make disciples” There it is Matthew 28:19 but who is doing it?  Do you know someone who is ?  I’ve known a lot of Christians, for many years but I can’t say that they are making disciples. Where is it happening?…anywhere? Who is doing it well? In what church or ministry, by what group of people, program or denominations. Who cares about making disciples?

It was said recently that 80% of people are lost, whether that is true or not we can’t really know. we want to reach the lost and they need to be discipled. Our task is clear: “Go and make disciples” some call it “the great commission” and by almost every account is seems we are ignoring or just plain failing on the discipleship front. There are plenty of church members, do they count as disciples? People claim they are Christians, do they count?

Or perhaps that’s not for us, that was just for Jesus’s disciples, they were supposed to go unto all the nations and make disciples, but not us?

Let’s assume for a minute it is for us and that we want to go and make disciples. Where does one begin? Where do we go to make disciples? What does a disciple look like? Am I one? Who would want to be my disciple, for that matter who should be discipling me?

Should we be enlisting disciples? Jesus did, he hand picked his entire group ,even Judas.  And they changed the world. Of course He was Jesus. What should be our response? This is a sincere question that we should have an answer for.

Perhaps we should be doing it the way Jesus did it.  They seemed to drop everything and focus on Jesus. They left everything, their family, their work and followed him. Was that the best model? is that what is expected? Is anyone doing that? How is it working for them? If someone somewhere is doing that we should know about it.  I just don’t understand…This appears to be an insurmountable task that is very difficult if not impossible to achieve. 

The Navigators.org have some tools. Where are the best tools? Please share below.

Help me Jesus to go and make disciples.

What is Discipleship and Why is it Important?

What exactly is discipleship?  Is it important?  If so, why and should your church have a discipleship program?

What is a Disciple?

When Jesus commanded the disciples to go into all the world to make disciples of all nations and to teach them the things that He had taught them, this was an imperative command.  A command that is non-negotiable like repent and believe but what does this word “disciple” mean?  What does it mean to make disciples?  The Greek word for disciple is “mathēteuō” which in the verb form means “to be a disciple of one, to follow instructions” or “to instruct, to teach” so a disciple is a student who is learning one or more disciplines.  This comes from the Greek root of the word “mathētēs” meaning “a learner” or “a pupil” so Jesus is telling His disciples to go and make disciples of others and this should have a self-replicating effect like ripples in the pond that go forever outward. We are all commanded to make disciples but how do we make disciples?  Is it simply preaching to the lost about the gospel of Jesus Christ?  No, it is much more than that.

Every Timothy Needs a Paul

We have a mentoring program in our church where older, more experienced Christians are mentoring the younger ones but every one of us needs a mentor just as every one of us needs to be mentoring a younger or newer Christian, regardless of their age.  Mentoring, simply stated is just another word for discipling. I am 60+ but I too have the need for a mentor and I have one.  The church where I now pastor at had a pastor who used to be here but he moved and now fills the pulpit at another church when needed.  This man is discipling or mentoring me because I will never reach a point in my life where I don’t need the input, the correction, and the experience of another man.  Women have this same opportunity of course.  Read what Paul wrote about the older women in Titus 2:3-4 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.”  Even “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness” (Titus 2:2) and should “urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:6-8).  Every mentor must “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:15) so a mentor sometimes has to exhort their mentee and to rebuke them when necessary.

Discipling is…

Discipling is being a godly example, being a godly model for someone to follow after as Paul wrote “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1) and “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do” (Phil 3:17).  Paul narrows the focus down to this: “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 1:6). If someone you know is a biblical model of a godly woman or man of Christ, then imitate them but only if they are imitating Christ and do as Paul says, “keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”  Paul told the Corinthians to “Be imitators of [him.just as he is] of Christ.”  Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the one who directs us to be more Christ-like but outwardly, mentors can show them what that looks like in the skin in our everyday life.  Right now I have a young man going out with me in evangelizing the community where our church is located.  He can see by my (hopefully) godly example how a person is called to do this it is part of the imperative command given by Christ in what is called the Great Commission but for many churches this has been the “great omission.”  Yes, we are to reach out to the lost but a major part of that commission is to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18) and to be “teaching them to observe all that [Christ has] commanded” us (Matt 28:20) so discipling someone includes going out into all the world and making disciples but it must include “teaching them to observe all” that Jesus taught the disciples and commanded them to do.

Our Responsibility

As we have read it is all Christian’s responsibility to go and share the gospel and to teach them to observe what Christ has commanded us to do but it is not our responsibility to save them — that is the work of the Holy Spirit.  He convicts the sinners. He points them to Christ. He makes them see their need for repentance and faith in Christ.  It is not our responsibility to save anyone but it is our responsibility to tell others about the Savior.  It is their response to His ability so that they might be saved.  Some key passages in discipling include Romans 12 and I Corinthians 13.  Mentoring or discipling begins with developing and establishing a relationship with someone and being transparent about strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and confessing faults for both the mentor and the mentee for both the disciple and the one being discipled.  A good part of this includes teaching, serving, praying for one another, and humbly accepting rebuke or correction when needed.  The Word of God is like a sharp two-edged sword that is alive; it has two edges on it so it cuts both ways, both to the one giving it and to the one on the receiving end (Heb 4:12).  Sometimes it must cut in order to heal.  The proverb (27:6) is true; “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” and “Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue” (Prov 28:23) and putting it bluntly, “Blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being” (Prov 20:30).


Does your church have a discipleship program?  Are people in your church being discipled right now?  If not, they are losing out on a precious resource for growing in the grace and knowledge of God.  We should be taping the experiences of the mentor’s wisdom and failures, to help shape the future leaders of the church. Every Paul needs to be mentoring a young Timothy just as every Timothy needs a Paul to have as a mentor but only as long as that mentor is imitating Christ. We are commanded to make disciples and to teach them the things that Christ commands.  If we are not doing this, then the only commission we are fulfilling is the “great omission” and not the Great Commission.

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.