Firstly, who makes disciples?
Perhaps the classic answer to this in some circles would be pastors or those in full time leadership with some theological training. I may be overstating the case there but there can be a tendency even in non-conformist churches to see the leaders as the sole “doers” in the church. That can mean that discipleship is left to only a few people. The Apostle Paul seems to take a different view:
2 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 also.
There seems to be a model here of teaching and training others who can then pass it on. In other words we don’t keep it to ourselves but pass on the good news of the gospel to others to pass on too. A good description of discipling I think. The idea seems to be that we don’t have a model where one person does all the discipling but rather disciples who make disciples who make disciples and so on.
Secondly, to whom, or how many?
This is a slightly difficult question to answer because to a large degree I guess this will depend a bit on who God sends our way. But here is my thought: what if instead of quantity with discipleship we think quality? What I mean by that is rather than thinking of the maximum number of people we can disciple perhaps we should concentrate on a few people each over a longer period. The reasoning that got me to this tentative position is that both Jesus and Paul seemed to concentrate on just a few people even though they could have done more. Jesus, God the Son, only trains twelve, he deliberately only chooses twelve and then invests a huge amount of time on those twelve. Paul seems to spend a considerable amount of time on Timothy and Titus. Again there were others he spent time with but in terms of discipling and mentoring it is only a few.
I understand there seem to be two categories here; disciples and apprentices but when Jesus talks about going and making disciples he is speaking to the ones he has discipled which at least suggests that discipling is not a lesser category than apprenticing.
So here is the challenge:
Think of a person or a small group of people God has brought you into contact with and think about ways you could pass on the great things you have learnt about Jesus and communicate some of the joy of walking with him. The original twelve turned the world upside down.