Go Make Disciples: How Jesus Did It, How We Can Do It by Brad Francis - Read Online
Go Make Disciples
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“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” 

Right before ascending into heaven, Jesus stood on a mountain and delivered the Great Commission, instructing all His followers to make disciples of all nations. Promising He would always be with us, He drifted up into the clouds. Two thousand years later, our objective remains and we steadfastly— 

Wait, what? Make disciples of all nations? How do you do that? 

Jesus’ early followers knew precisely what to do. They knew because the Messiah had spent the three years prior turning them into disciples. They followed His example and “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), and that example is left for us as well. 

In Go Make Disciples, bestselling author Brad Francis takes us through the five aspects of discipleship that Jesus regularly practiced: example, evaluation, education, equipping and experience. Discover how Jesus took a dozen ordinary, uneducated men and turned them into Christ followers who boldly reached their world with the Gospel. After seeing how Jesus made disciples, Brad also offers ideas about how we can adapt His methods for our modern world. 

Whether you’ve personally been involved in discipling hundreds, or whether you’ve never known how to even take the first step toward making disciples, Go Make Disciples provides a strong biblical foundation for following Jesus’ commands. If the Great Commission applies to you, so does this book!

Published: Brad Francis on
ISBN: 9781519912466
List price: $3.99
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Go Make Disciples - Brad Francis

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I love my family and I’m grateful to those who support me, but at the end of the day, I write for the glory of the One True King, Creator God, Jehovah-Jireh, the Beginning and the End, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. These words are for You. Use them however You will.

Table of Contents




If the Shoe Fits...

Chapter One

Famous Last Words

Chapter Two

The Method in the Madness

Chapter Three

Example, Part One: Follow the Leader

Chapter Four

Example, Part Two: Genuine Imitation

Chapter Five

Evaluation, Part One: Who Do You Say That I Am?

Chapter Six

Evaluation, Part Two: X Marks the Spot

Chapter Seven

Education, Part One: The Great Storyteller

Chapter Eight

Education, Part Two: Beyond the Pulpit

Chapter Nine

Equipping, Part One: This is How We Do It

Chapter Ten

Equipping, Part Two: Never Do Ministry Alone

Chapter Eleven

Experience, Part One: Pre-Great Commissions

Chapter Twelve

Experience, Part Two: Out of the Nest

Chapter Thirteen

All Together Now

Chapter Fourteen

Failure Guaranteed


Making Making Disciples


Let it Grow

About the Author



First and foremost, I need to acknowledge my wife, Shannon, who works very hard to support our family financially so I can homeschool our children, take the lead on foster care obligations, and, of course, write! Recently, she’s even been willing to take over a big chunk of the foster care paperwork to give me more writing time, for which I am extremely grateful. Would this book exist without her help? Maybe...but years later than its release date, I’m sure! Thanks, honey. I love you.

I mention them plenty in the text, but I reached out to countless ministry professionals for this book, asking them to contribute their own experiences and advice when it comes to discipleship. Most people never responded, but those who did gave me great material. A big thanks to Dad, Adam, David, Rachel, Barry, and Bob! This book would be diminished without your input.

And thanks to my editor, Nat Davis. I knew I wanted to sample her skills when a writer friend complained that she was giving detailed feedback about aspects of his story he never wanted to be critiqued. Great! It’s wonderful to find an editor that thorough. Nat’s done a great job cleaning me up and making me look presentable, and was willing to argue grammatical minutiae at 1 am. If you see any typos or mistakes (or British spellings that are  much cooler than their American counterparts), assume that it’s because I ignored her and that it indicates no lack on her part. I recommend her, and you can see what she offers at davisprofessionals.com.

It was my intention to keep this on one page for the paperback (who cares for the ebook!?), but then my second editor swooped in (she did the same thing for my last book) and I would be woefully remiss—yes, woefully—if I didn’t acknowledge her as well. Annie Douglass Lima offered to read this when I thought it was nearly finished and found countless improvements to make. The fact that she did this all pro bono means that I really should be paying her something. Instead, I’m singing her praises here, mentioning her website (anniedouglasslima.blogspot.com), and encouraging those of you who read fiction to check out her most recent book, which I just devoured. It’s called The Collar and the Cavvarach and it’s outstanding. I gave it a five-star review without reservation.


If the Shoe Fits...


I realize we don’t know each other very well and that we’re only beginning this journey together, but I hope you won’t mind if I ask a bit of a personal question. If you think I’m being too nosy, just remember that we’re siblings in Christ (or at least that’s my assumption; if we’re not, please feel free to take the time right now to fully surrender your life to Jesus Christ, to bow before Him as Savior and Lord, and pledge to spend the rest of your life following Him and pursuing His purposes...all set? Great!). The question is:

How many people are you personally discipling right now?

Let me encourage you not to write in your answer if you’re reading this on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. If this is a hard copy, write away!

Oh, and please don’t be like my Dad and get all sarcastic and say, What are you talking about? It’s 9:04 at night! I’m at home reading! We’re talking about the number of discipleship relationships that you are currently involved in where you are the mentor. Got it?

Of course, I understand that we all go through seasons of fruitfulness in ministry. You may be between disciples at the moment. That’s okay. We want to be as inclusive as possible, so I’m going to throw a follow up question at you.

How many people did you personally disciple in the past year?

You might be starting to sense a pattern here. This is a book about discipleship, after all. If you misread the title and were expecting something about, let’s say, discipline or disclaimers or disco, alas, that pesky dyslexia has foiled you again. You’re still welcome to stick around, I assure you.

Now, let’s open it up a little further. Last introductory question, okay? Get ready to wow me!

How many people have you personally discipled throughout your entire life?

Can you include your kids? If you’re a parent, I sure hope you’re including your kids! Both the statistics I’ve seen (Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy by Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee is a decent, if dated, resource for this, but good luck finding a copy) and personal experience have indicated, however, that many Christian parents do not invest the time and effort necessary to truly make disciples of their children, whether they don’t know how or what. I would gently suggest that the spiritual well-being of your kids should be one of your highest priorities—and thus it should get the time, energy, and attention that your highest priorities warrant.

But I would also suggest that, while discipleship within the family is a good start, it’s not enough. There was a time when my family and I (including our daughters, who were three and seven at the time) were traveling the country as fulltime missionaries with a drama ministry. On our journeys, we encountered a Christian camp director who criticized the lack of stability we were giving our girls for a season (we were on the road fulltime like this for about seven months). He said, Even if all a parent does is raise godly children, they’ve done their job. That’s all they really need to do as a Christian.

I disagree. First of all, I see Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations, not only those in your own gene pool.

But I would also argue that, if all your children see is you investing spiritually in your own immediate family and no one else, they will get a very incomplete understanding of Christian mission. Children who see their parents investing in others who need Christ as well as in their own children will be more mission minded.

As you’ll see later on in the book, the discipleship of a child who is never included in ministry outside of their family will also be lacking a crucial element of how Jesus made disciples.

So, if you see that camp director, let him know that, okay?

But I’ve gotten off track. We’ve looked at three specific questions related to discipleship. If you’re satisfied with your answers, as a follower of Jesus Christ and servant of the King, that’s great! I mean that. Even as I write these words, I’m not entirely satisfied with my answers, and this is even after God has been greatly working in my heart and life in these areas for the past several years. Even so, please feel free to continue on this journey. Maybe you’ll pick up a tip to help as you continue to make disciples. Or maybe you should write your own book that blows this one out of the water. That’s cool too. I’ll pick it up for sure.

But, according to all the research I’ve ever been able to find (the Barna Group has done a fair bit, and George Barna has a book called Growing True Disciples that is worth the read), most believers couldn’t give a very satisfying answer to any of those three questions. Would it be fair to say that most Christians have never made a single disciple in their entire life? The research says so. But how can this be?

We could speculate all day. Do believers not know that Jesus commanded them to personally make disciples? The Great Commission is one of the most well-known passages of Scripture to those who attend church regularly, isn’t it? Perhaps Christians want to make disciples but don’t know how? Perhaps no one has ever invested in you like this. Perhaps you’ve never been equipped.

Assigning the blame isn’t really the point, though, is it?

If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you need to make disciples. It’s not optional.

If you don’t know how, I think this book will help.

If you have no idea where to begin, I think this book will help.

If you’re already actively making disciples but would like some tips, I hope and pray that this book will still help.

We’re going straight to the source, after all. We’re taking cues from the Master.

You might notice that each of those three questions asked what you have done personally. A lot of churches use the word discipleship today, but they are often talking about programs, sermons, or classes. Jesus didn’t use the word to mean corralling and teaching en masse. No, He personally made disciples of twelve men. The world has never been the same since.

And that’s the call before us.

The structure of this book is very straightforward. After laying the foundation, we’re going to look at the five ways that I see Jesus investing in His disciples in the Gospels: Example, Evaluation, Education, Equipping, and Experience (you can tell I’ve been to seminary because of the alliteration). We’ll explore each one by looking at some examples from Jesus’ life and then we’ll chat about some different ways that we can practically use His methods today. My hope is that these examples will help get the wheels turning, and you can figure out how to best apply them to your specific situation and the disciples that God will bring into your life.

That’s what we’re doing here. Nothing fancy. But I hope it will be practical, and I hope that it will, with the Holy Spirit, help you change lives.

Because you need to be used to change lives.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

With a Little Help From My Friends

Prior to jumping into the meat of the book, permit me to introduce my collaborators. In the early stages of writing this book, I considered that it might be helpful to seek input from godly men and women whom God has put in my path over the years. If they decided to give me some material, we could all benefit from their experience and stories on the subject.

So I reached out to ministers, missionaries, Christian leaders, and the like. I want to introduce you to those who responded, since I’ll be sprinkling their stories in here and there throughout the book.

First, meet Rev. David G. Johnson. David is an author friend as well as a missionary to a closed country in Asia. For the sake of his safety, I can’t be any more specific, but he is surely on the front lines, being used to make disciples of all nations.

Adam Castenir is the Children’s Minister at Grace Heartland Church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. This is the church my family and I are currently part of, and we’ve been very impressed with Adam’s commitment to the children.

Bob Santos is the president of Search for Me Ministries, Inc., whose mission is helping to form and equip a generation of world-changers. He’s spent years on college campuses with BASIC Campus Ministry and served for three years as the Interim Director of the organization in Lima, New York. Bob also serves as the Southwest Pennsylvania Area Representative for Elim Fellowship, an organization focused on revival and equipping Christian leaders.

I got to know Barry Morton, pastor for the primary campus of Community Church, when we lived in Greensburg, Indiana. Barry has a great deal of experience working with Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru), a ministry that has always focused heavily on discipleship. He has also done some work with the Boaz Project, a ministry that works to help support orphans in different countries around the world. Barry and his wife Jessi were so good at this that they ended up bringing a Russian orphan named Svetlana home to provide an even greater level of care (I mean that they adopted her).

Also from Greensburg and Community Church is Rachel Winters, the sole female respondent (but not the only one I asked!) and the Children’s Director for Community’s Greensburg campus. She lists her passions as ministry, orphans, and kids.

Finally, the first person who responded—and he probably responded more thoroughly and exhaustively than anyone else—is my father, Rev. Don Francis, senior pastor at Bellevue First Baptist Church in Bellevue, Michigan. This was his first pastorate, and he’s been there over twenty years now, seeing it grow from a congregation of thirty-something attendees to over two hundred, filling two morning services. It’s not surprising that he answered my invitation so quickly because we have discussed discipleship a great deal, and he’s been putting in a lot of effort into making his church into one where it’s more than just a buzzword.

Those are the individuals who have stepped up and embraced this project with me. And it makes sense that you’re not only hearing from me. After all, I think one of the ideas behind discipleship—and, indeed, behind the entire idea of the New Testament church—is that we’re all in this together, that God intends for us to support, help, and encourage each other. We all benefit.

And that’s quite enough introductory material, I think. Time to jump into things, and we’ll start with the Source of Life Himself. We’ll begin with Jesus and the greatest charge ever delivered to mankind.

Chapter One

Famous Last Words


All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

What a crescendo to a tumultuous six weeks. The disciples had followed Jesus for over three years. The Jewish people were yearning for a Savior and these men believed that their Master was the real deal. Rumors swirled about who precisely the carpenter’s Son from Nazareth might be, but Simon Peter boldly proclaimed, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mat. 16:16)!

But then?

Jesus is arrested. His disciples flee. He’s brought before each of the major players like an itinerant circus act: the high priest, the former high priest, Herod, even Pontius Pilate. Jesus barely defends Himself. The Holy Spirit had divinely permitted Peter and the others to see that the promised Messiah would look much different than the people had expected—but the Son of the living God dying on a Roman cross?

Spoiler alert: His death doesn’t take.

Actually, that’s a bit misleading.

It would be more accurate to say that God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, defeated death once and for all, that evil was conquered and the grave was robbed of what would have been its greatest prize.

If any doubts had begun to creep in, I think the resurrection probably took care of those. It’s a pretty effective rebuttal to doubters, as poor Thomas would certainly agree.

So put yourself in the sandals of one of those eleven men. You have been following and learning from the Son of God for over three years. If you had any nagging questions about who He really was, those were pretty much taken care of when He walked forth from the grave. And, by the way, these three years haven’t just been hanging out, as it turns out. He’s been training you. He’s got a mission for you. Now it’s time for one final set of instructions, and then He’s going back to reclaim His heavenly throne, leaving you and your buddies to do the job on your own.

(Okay, so technically they wouldn’t be on their own by any means, and He gave that great speech about the coming Helper to prove it, but I would suggest that the disciples probably had more questions than comprehension about the Holy Spirit at this point. That’s only a guess, though.)

I’m thinking that you are probably going to pay more attention to these final instructions than anything else anyone’s ever said to you your entire life.

God has a job for you! It’s really important! I’m thinking that Matthew’s whipped out his scroll and Sharpie because that boy’s going to be taking some notes.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Boom. There it is. The final instructions. What a great commission, right? And you’re standing there and at first you’re starting to shake in your sandals because this seems so massive—make disciples of all nations?!—but you look over and James and John are both grinning. Philip is wiping his brow in relief. Thaddeus is thinking that he’s never going to go by the name Judas ever again.

And that’s when it hits you: yeah, the scope is pretty big here, but you know exactly how to do this! Everything clicks into place. Jesus wants you to make disciples and that’s precisely what He’s been doing in your life for the past three years!

You know how to make disciples because He did it to you.

Never Not Discipling

I would argue that the primary ministry activity of Jesus Christ during His time on this earth was making disciples. He had