We wrestle with models of Discipleship today.
We have Robert Coleman, The Navigators, and a host of other noteworthy ministries.
Many, if not most, promote the model of the Lord, Jesus. If he did it this way, it has to be The Model!
But, while wrestling with Models, we often overlook the content to be passed on in the model.
The Lord, Jesus was a son of the Old Covenant, lived under the Old Covenant, fulfilled its every requirement and just prior to his final passion, established a New Covenant.
In that context, and on the final evening, while instituting the New Covenant said He had many other things to say to them. Those things came in the ongoing revelation granted to the Apostolic band and their delegates.
In the unfolding of the New Covenant writings, we see none of the Apostolic band repeating the admonition to “…disciple the nations…”.
In fact, one might suggest what is referred to as the Great Commission was fulfilled by the Apostles in their generation! (Col. 1:6, 23; Romans 1:8 & 10:18).
Instead, we see the apostle Paul speak of “…equipping the saints…” for their ministry.
He speaks on this ministry of equipping in the context of the life of the church and the ministry of providing ongoing leadership (Eph. 4 & 2 Tim. 2).
And one might reasonably argue the ministry of these “saints” will be categorically distinct from that of the Apostolic band. The Apostolic band were granted the prerogative of physical miracles, whereas the miracles of subsequent generations were to be of a moral nature, i.e. changed lives attesting to the Gospel’s power
In the context of the New Covenant then, the ministry of “discipling” though similar in method, is, I suggest, distinct in content and context.
The new context is New Covenant, and the context, correspondingly, is New Covenant in its orientation.
IMHO, for centuries, the church and community of saints have been captive to an Old Covenant orientation, dragging that baggage after them, all the while wondering, “Why isn’t this working?...”
Again, as in the words of J. R. Lowell, trying to “…unlock the future with the past’s blood-rusted key”!