Purpose of this Post: The purpose of this post is for us to understand Jesus’ “tool box” of training methods. Jesus was very intentional in his training of his Apostles and he used some very specific methods. The methods Jesus used are as important as his commands and teachings for us today. If His words are holy then his teaching methods are holy as well. What did Jesus say about the subject?
In Luke 6: 40 Jesus says this: “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Jesus says a disciple has to be fully trained. Sounds as though Jesus is speaking of being intentional. He also says a disciple will be like his teacher. That sounds like the teacher is a model for his disciple(s). Jesus used the rabbi training methods common in Israel at the time with some exceptions, but the Apostles were trained for a specific purpose – to make disciple-makers for him (Matthew 28:18-20).
These are essential methods to be used/applied as you select and train people to be disciple-makers who can in turn can select and develop future disciple-makers. Paul instructed Timothy to do this in 2nd Timothy 2:2 “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others.” Actually 2nd Timothy 2:1-7 put verse 2 in perspective. Both Jesus and Paul exhort us to be obedient to what Jesus has stated as a command in Matthew 28:18-20.
What were Jesus’ methods? There are five: prayer, purpose (vision), small group, TMAA process and pairs. Let us now consider each of these.
Jesus’ Tool Box of Training Methods
1.Prayer – He spent hours in prayer with His Father (Luke 6:12-16) and the Holy Spirit, seeking their counsel and consensus in His choices for his Apostles. He chose men–at least 10 – from the ‘red neck’ agricultural area of Galilee. These men came with a high degree of vocational and religious training typical of most male Jews of that time (synagogue school and home) – see post 3 of 8/21/21. (Note: in a future post we will discuss choosing people to train to be disciple makers.)
Some history. Jesus first met some of these men at the baptism site of John the Baptist or some 14 to 18 months prior to his choice of twelve. Most of these months were spent by Jesus in the Galilee region and many of those he chose followed him on a sporadic basis as noted in previous posts. He placed many into early service to assist him in his ministry (John 4:1-3; John 3:22-23). They had not been fully trained but were in his ministry service. (A point to remember.) Many were following him at this time and he probably had a large group from which to choose. He was looking for men with a passion for the lost. Did they have this passion when he chose them? Probably not. They did after his resurrection and after the Day of Pentecost.
How much time do we spend in prayer asking for the Holy Spirit for guidance for people to train? In my early days of discipling, I did the choosing or others chose the people, which led to much waste of my time, energy and heart ache. Very few of those I discipled early in my service to Christ became disciple-makers.
If you are a “born again” believer you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit by God, the Father, who indwells you. You have a direct connection with the great “I AM” but 95% of people don’t use this resource. They do as I did – they do not ask for the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit but go choose people by themselves or let others choose people to be trained. Don’t let your selfish ego get in the way of the Holy Spirit’s leading. You pray and wait and many times the waiting can be long. This is the frustrating part for us (me) and we decide to start using our own choices of people.
2. Purpose (Vision) – Jesus was very specific in the ‘product’ he desired before he started. He desired men who would persevere in the face of opposition and begin His Church. His purpose was to develop men exhibiting some specific traits that would continue His ‘work’ after His Ascension. He states his goal as a command just before His Ascension – Matthew 28:18-20 “go make disciples”. As a corollary to this command, earlier in his ministry he asked men to “follow me” and I will make you “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19: Mark 1:17) and “labors into the harvest” (Matt. 9:37). Jesus indicates the develop of disciples requires us to be “fishers of men”. “Fishers of men” is an intermediate step to developing a disciple-maker.
We have been taught since the Reformation that our job is finished when a person becomes a born-again believer – we have done our duty as “fishers of men”. But we have separated Jesus’ command into two parts: part one is regeneration/conversion or being a “fisher” or ‘evangelism’. We rejoice when this occurs as we should. At this point the difficult task of developing a person as an adult disciple begins. Part two development of a person as a disciple of Christ is left as an option. This is the most frustrating issue (for me) in the church today and we are reaping the lack of intentionality of the past 500 years since the Reformation. There is little connection with Paul’s remarks in Ephesians 4:11-16 regarding the development of a team. We leave people as “children” per Paul’s remarks in Eph. 4:14.
Before you start be sure you have a very clear description of the actions expected of those you disciple. Communicate this early in your discipling process and on a continuous basis.
3. TMAA Process – Jesus trained using the TMAA Process. T is for teaching verbally (he taught didactically and in parables), M is for modeling (He model in speech and actions), A is for act –act upon what had been taught (Matt. 10:5: Luke 9:1-6: Luke 10:1-2). He sent the disciples out in pairs (Luke 10:1-2) to witness, to preach and gain experience. The last A is for accountability (Luke 9:10) when they returned, he corrected any issues. This is a training process that has been used by the military for thousands of years. Any secular management guru worth his ‘salt’ will use this TMAA process to develop leadership skills and the training for a specific paradigm and worldview change. For Jesus this was done in a small group and he used it in each phase (stage) of his training. Again, this technique is used by militaries around the world but NOT IN THE CHURCH!! This is a failure of our religious education system.
4. Small Groups – Jesus trained in a small group, the normal Jewish method of training at the time. He chose 12 men which is a ‘large’ small group and he trained with an intentional purpose in mind. With his choosing of the twelve, after much prayer, he began stage 3 of their training. They were with him full time (24/7) for about12 to 15 months. He focused on changing their Jewish Palestine worldview into a Kingdom of God worldview. Paul states this in Romans 12:2, the transforming or renewing of our minds.
The TMAA process of item 3 is most effective in a small group.
We presently train using the ‘Greek’ method of a lecturer standing before a group with little accountability. That is the current “preaching/teaching” technique of most churches. This method is not very effective in terms of training. Jesus understood the “Learning Pyramid” as noted in the attached chart at the end of this article.
5. Pairs – He sent His disciples out in pairs (Luke 10:1-2) and not as a single person. He used the common Jewish practice of Ecclesiastes 4:12(And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken). This was common practice among the Jews in Israel at the time of Jesus. In almost all cases in Acts we see a group (examples: Peter/Cornelius – Acts 10:23; Paul/Barnabas – Acts13:2-3) and not a single person.
Jesus instructed them to go only to Jewish towns that Jesus would visit in the future. They were not to go outside Israel because Jesus was sent to witness to God’s chosen people. These were instructions he received from his Father, the Lord, prior to his incarnation (putting on human flesh).
Prayer, purpose (vision), TMAA process, small groups and pairs were Jesus’ training tools. If you are serious about being a maker of disciple-makers then these are the holy tools you are to use. You start with prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to bring the people He desires to be trained across your path. You wait and let Him lead. You have a clear vision of the outcome and you articulate this at all times to those you are training. You train in a small group and you use the TMAA process and send them out in acts of service in pairs. God always honors our obedience to His Son Jesus. As Jesus says in John 15:8 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” I repeat – if Jesus’ words are holy then His training tools are holy – use them.
Application: Try Jesus’ tool-box tools – they work.
The Average Retention Rate of Different Teaching Methods.
Source: Every Man a Warrior- Book 1 “Helping Men Succeed in Life“, by Lonnie Berger. NavPress, 2011, page 48