Model #5: Jesus Carbon Copy

For Jesus, discipleship meant inseparable proximity.  For three years he lived with his disciples – he ate with them, traveled with them, changed the world with them.  He really invested in twelve, really really invested in three, and really really really invested in one.  Sure Jesus ministered to the masses, but twelve heard sermons, watched miracles, and received challenges that no one else did; Peter, James, and John, experienced more than the rest; Peter got even more than James on John. 

Jesus gave the 12-3-1 progressive challenges.  Early on he gave them nothing but observation – just told them to come and follow; watch him in action.  Eventually he started explaining the spiritual depth behind his actions.  Then he sent them in pairs to practice his actions.  Piling on the teachings disclosed the ultimate plan for these actions, and then he commissioned them to carry the plan to completion.

Jesus’ discipleship plan in short:  invest incrementally in 12-3-1 same sex persons with a pattern of observeàexplainàpracticeàteachàcommission. 


Praises:  Inseparable proximity exposes every other discipleship model as watered down.  Only in inseparable proximity will the whole of one life be translated to the whole of another. 


The observeàexplainàpracticeàteachàcommission pattern is great in that education cannot be isolated as discipleship when it only comes after practical action.  According to Jesus’ model, discipleship is two parts education and three parts action.


Critique:  I do not know of anyone outside of the colleges or occasionally career age singles who are even remotely bordering on a carbon copying Jesus discipleship.  G-12 may have tried, by my understanding is that they are not either.  Our culture has to make a huge leap if our model of discipleship is to happen in communal living. 


7 responses to “Model #5: Jesus Carbon Copy

  1. Greetings to all, Peace to you,

    Wow, there are so many ideas in these 5 models for discipling. I’m struggling to take even a little of it in.

    (A prayer: Please Father God, give me wisdom in this area because I am sorely lacking here. Help me to learn from the others in the discussion. Give me wisdom to share my thoughts with others and to allign my thoughts with yours. Help me Lord God to have confidence and faith that you will answer and help me to be single minded and stable in my ways as I participlate in this group discussion. Amen.)


  2. R0berta Julke

    Wow–pretty radical! Although we know that Jesus was a pretty radical guy when he was here!

    Anyway…to state the obvious–If Jesus was here practicing the 12-3-1 model today (as Christ personified) it would work…because it would be Jesus investing in us. However, that wouldn’t be the case, so who would ever be fully equipped, capable or qualified to take on the role of discipler?
    The role of solely investing oneself in 12 people, in inseparable proximity, today would smack a bit of cultish behavior since none of us is without sin (as Jesus was) and it could easily lead to abuse of power, ill intentions and manipulation.
    As you can tell, I’m rather cynical and don’t think that this model could work well in today’s society. I’m not sure I would ever want anyone watching my every action and trying to then repeat what my bad, sinful model taught them!

    I’d love to hear what other’s think. Am I being too dogmatic?

  3. Roberta,

    I didn’t feel you were “too dogmatic” when I read through your post, but I will offer some differing views.

    While I question if this model is best suited for our culture today, I like the aspect that people strive to help others by modeling Christ.

    All of these models have the potential for abuse if we take our eyes off of Jesus and work for our own motives. The only reason I can see this model being more of a concern is the level of exposure/interaction. However, I question if our resistance to this type of intimacy with others limits the Holy Spirit working through us. It is logical that I have greater influence with people that I spend more time with than those that I don’t.

    I point you to a February 2008 post titled “Proud, and not afraid to show it” on this blog. It points out that Paul did exactly that telling others to follow him as he followed Christ. It was a post I found particularly challenging to me. You may enjoy reading through it as well.

  4. I think the elements of this model (of the 5) actually make the most sense to me. I don’t know that in today’s society we can replicate Jesus’ way of living day-by-day with many people (although I’ve heard of intergenerational housing that embraces this idea of communal living by sharing common areas). Certainly, I think that the beauty of small groups is being able to get together in a larger group (8-12) but then having a few people in the group that you really invest in, pray for, and spend time with. Coupling this with ideas from the previous entry of making sure to have veterans, apprentices, and rookies in a group could help everyone grow.

  5. I feel like the proximity is the biggest issue for using this model on a church wide format. I just don’t see many people spending this kind of time together. But as I look at my 10 month old son I see this being highly practical. Just to move him forward in life and loving Jesus. He will observe me just because I’m his daddy. Then as he starts to understand life a little, be intentional about explaining spiritual things to him. The to let him live out those things in practice and challenge him to live, talk, and interact with people as Jesus did. Then to commission him into life to do the work Jesus has empowered him to do. This model I think at the least could be a great “Parent like Jesus” sort of thing.

    I don’t believe that most parents who follow Jesus get to the commissioning point. It is too scary for some to put their child in the hands of Jesus.

  6. I had an interesting conversation in a staff meeting yesterday, as one person observed that church leadership is often bent on grooming people for a particular task. Rather than starting with a task and then moving toward people, maybe a more appropriate approach to leadership development would have us building people in general, and then worry about the roles later?

    It has me revisiting Jesus’ approach to discipleship (or leadership development).

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