The Discipling Difference


Yeshua (Jesus) taught the multitudes in public meetings, and He also taught the twelve in a small group setting. What’s the difference, and why?

Preaching to the multitudes had the emphasis of the great commission in Mark 16; teaching in the small group setting had the emphasis of the great commission in Matthew 28. We could summarize the two approaches in a chart:

Mark 16 Matthew 28
Preach Teach
Gospel All Scriptures
Faith Obedience
Salvation Discipleship
Power Authority
Miracles Government
Individuals Nations

The first makes the kingdom grow; the second makes the kingdom multiply.  Discipleship must be paired with evangelism and revival. On Fridays and on Shabbat, we send our team out to evangelize and to serve in local congregations. I preach almost every Shabbat in a different congregation.  There we are looking for as large a group as possible. Then on Monday through Thursday, we have our prophetic praise time and discipleship classes.

The dual focus of both evangelism and discipleship is critical. We need both approaches. For instance, there is a difference in the style of the classroom setup for discipleship.

These are just techniques, but they reflect the difference in purpose for the discipleship group as opposed to the main meeting:

  1. Sit – the teachers sit with the students rather than stand
  2. Small – the number of students is limited, rather than aiming for a large group
  3. Circle – chairs are arranged in a circle instead of students facing forward
  4. Closed – the disciples come by invitation only, as we pick them by prayer
  5. Questions – the students are encouraged to interrupt with questions
  6. Application – there is an assignment each week to practice what was learned
  7. Accountability – we follow up on students to see how they did the assignment

The purpose is for the disciples not to be passive pew sitters, but active ministers. We want interaction. We want results. We are equipping them for the ministry. Discipleship is more training than teaching; more impartation than information.

Our weekly accountability sessions include seven questions:

  1. Are you struggling with temptation to sin in an area of your life?
  2. Are you having a problem in a personal relationship with someone?
  3. Are you having a daily devotional time of Bible meditation and prayer?
  4. Whom have you shared the gospel with this week?
  5. What is the Holy Spirit instructing you to do?
  6. How are you obeying what the Holy Spirit instructed you to do?
  7. What personal needs do you have that we can pray for or help with?

I’ve always enjoyed playing sports, but I could never understand why some men enjoy watching sports on television (you know, sitting on the couch, beer and pretzels in hand, belly hanging over, shouting “You bum, I cudda thrown d’ ball better than that!”).

Faith in Yeshua is not a spectator sport. In some congregations we even call the people “the audience.” No, it’s time to participate. All the people of God are to be equipped and trained to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). Yeshua is our head coach, saying to us, “It’s time to get off the bench and into the game. It’s your time to play ball.”