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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

How Jesus Gives an Invitation to Discipleship

Updated: Mar 8

NOTE: If you're looking for a post on how pastors can give an invitation to discipleship at the conclusion of a sermon (including examples and scripts).

Have you ever felt the stirring in your soul, the gentle tug that beckons you towards something greater? What if there existed a profound invitation, a transformative journey that could lead you to discover the depths of your faith and purpose?

This is the essence of an invitation to discipleship. It is an opportunity to embark on a transformative journey of learning, devotion, growth, and service in the imitation of Jesus Christ.

An invitation to discipleship is being invited to become a learner, a student of Jesus who learns about him, for the purpose of imitating his values and actions.

an invitation to discipleship from the outstretched hand of Jesus

Jesus' Invitation to Discipleship for the Apostles

Jesus Christ invites Matthew to discipleship

In one of the most captivating accounts of Jesus' invitation to discipleship, we find Matthew, a tax collector, sitting at his tax booth. Jesus approaches him and simply says, "Follow me." Instantly, Matthew rises from his place and becomes a devoted disciple of Jesus (Matthew 9:9). This remarkable encounter exemplifies Jesus' ability to see beyond societal norms and extend His invitation to those considered outsiders, demonstrating that discipleship knows no boundaries -- the invitation to discipleship is open to ALL!

Jesus invites Peter and Andrew to discipleship

On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus encounters Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, who were casting their nets into the water. Jesus calls out to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." In that pivotal moment, they leave their nets behind and wholeheartedly respond to Jesus' invitation, becoming His devoted disciples (Matthew 4:18-20). This episode demonstrates Jesus' power to transform ordinary lives and offers an inspiring example of immediate and unwavering obedience to His call.

Jesus invites brothers James and John to discipleship

In a similar manner, Jesus encounters James and John, the sons of Zebedee, while they were mending their nets with their father. Jesus calls them, and without hesitation, they leave their fishing boat and follow Him (Matthew 4:21-22). This account illustrates the radical nature of Jesus' invitation and the disciples' readiness to forsake their former way of life to pursue a higher calling.

Jesus invites Philip to discipleship

As Jesus continues His ministry, He finds Philip and simply says, "Follow me" (John 1:43). Philip wastes no time and becomes a devoted disciple of Jesus. This brief encounter emphasizes the simplicity and power of Jesus' invitation, as Philip responds to the call with faith and eagerness.

Philip invites Nathanael to discipleship

After accepting Jesus' invitation, Philip encounters Nathanael (also called Bartholemew) and excitedly shares the news, saying, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth." Skeptical at first, Nathanael questions if anything good can come out of Nazareth. However, when the disciple Nathaniel meets Jesus face to face, he realizes the truth and exclaims, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God!" (John 1:45-49). This interaction showcases the power of personal testimony and the invitation to discipleship as a transformative journey that inspires others to seek the truth.

Is the Call to Discipleship Only for the Apostles?

Jesus invites the rich young man to discipleship

In a poignant encounter, a rich young man approaches Jesus, asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him (Mark 10:21). However, the young man, deeply attached to his wealth, walks away sorrowful, unable to accept the cost of discipleship. This interaction highlights that the call to discipleship extends to all, but each individual must make the personal decision to respond and follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

Jesus' General Invitation to Discipleship

Throughout His ministry, Jesus extends a general invitation to all who are willing to hear and follow Him. He declares, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). This inclusive invitation emphasizes that discipleship is not limited to a select few but is open to anyone who is willing to surrender their lives, take up their cross, and walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

Is the Invitation to Discipleship the Same as an Invitation to Salvation?

The invitation to discipleship and the invitation to salvation are nearly the same thing. It's a bit like asking "Is the heads side of the coin the same as the tails side?" The answer is, "Yes, but you can't have one without the other."

While salvation is the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, discipleship encompasses a lifelong commitment to follow and imitate Him. Discipleship involves learning from Jesus, growing in faith, serving others, and living out the teachings and example of Christ. Accepting the invitation to discipleship is an integral part of the Christian journey, giving us a truly Christian life: a life dedicated to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit.

Let's respond to the invitation to discipleship with open hearts and a resolute commitment to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

How can we give an invitation to discipleship to others?

As followers of Christ, we have the privilege and responsibility to extend the invitation to discipleship to others. How can we do that?

Demonstrating Christ-like Love and Compassion

One of the most powerful ways we can extend the invitation to discipleship is by embodying Christ-like love and compassion in our interactions with others. When people witness genuine love and care, they are drawn to the source of that love. Our lives become a call to discipleship!

Sharing Personal Testimonies

Our personal stories of faith and how Jesus has transformed our lives can be compelling invitations to discipleship. When we share how we encountered Christ, the challenges we faced, and the joy we found in following Him, it resonates with others on a deep level. Personal testimonies create a connection and provide a glimpse of the transformative power of discipleship.

Inviting Others to Church and Christian Community

The church serves as a vital place for nurturing discipleship. Inviting others to join in the worship, fellowship, and teaching within a Christian community can be an effective way to introduce them to the invitation of discipleship. The warmth of a welcoming community and the shared experience of communal worship can inspire others to explore their faith further.

Offering to Study the Scriptures Together

A simple yet impactful way to extend the invitation to discipleship is by offering to study the Scriptures with others. Engaging in a discipleship Bible study or a small group discussion provides an opportunity for mutual learning and growth in faith. By exploring the teachings of Jesus together, we create an environment where questions can be asked, doubts can be addressed, and spiritual growth can flourish.

If you want more on this topic, I'd encourage you to consider how you could start a discipleship group.

Encouraging Prayer and Spiritual Reflection

Prayer is a powerful tool for connecting with God and discerning His will. Praying WITH someone can be a powerful way to encourage them to approach God in prayer. For some examples of discipleship prayers, explore this resource.

Modeling Servanthood and Humility

Discipleship involves a call to serve others selflessly, just as Jesus served during His earthly ministry. By modeling servanthood and humility, we inspire others to follow in the footsteps of our humble Savior. When people witness the genuine care and sacrificial actions of disciples, they are more likely to be drawn to the invitation of discipleship.

Offer a Chance to Follow Christ During a Church Service

If you're a pastor, it might involve giving an invitation to discipleship at the conclusion of your sermon, sometimes called an "altar call."

Conclusion: The Invitation For Discipleship Is For Everyone!

Extending the invitation to discipleship is not a task limited to a select few; it is a responsibility shared by all who seek to follow Jesus. Let's be faithful stewards of the call to discipleship, sharing the transformative message of the Gospel, and imitating Jesus in his call to discipleship.

If you want to make an invitation to discipleship to your congregation, this free download is something you should check out. It includes 12 altar call scripts you can use to do an invitation.

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