My friend Dennis Elenburg asked how we are fulfilling the great commandment to go out and make disciples. I said with my family, preaching at the retirement home, and leading worship at my kids' middle school. He then asked me three followup questions, which I will attempt to answer here.
(1) How do I make disciples within my own family: Well, one thing is that I am trying to teach the kids good theology. Nobody (believer or unbeliever) has no theology, just right theology or wrong theology. And theology is something that I think is also neglected in many churches today. We can't even come to faith in Christ without a somewhat right theology - to believe that we are sinners, that God is holy, hates sin, and only Christ can save us. So, with my son (and daughter to the extent she can understand, which will grow as she gets older of course) I have him read books that teach good theology - such as the absolute sovereignty of God in every area, including salvation - and we talk about the subject, such as discussing fallacies and problems with other theologies. He needs to be able to think and understand these things for himself, which is part of being a Christian.
Another thing is to teach them through words and example that they are here to do the work God put them here to do. So, I had my son join us in the evangelism course we took, practiced together, etc. Also, I make it very clear that I expect him to volunteer his time to help people in the community, to shine the light of Christ for them. I told him he could do anything he wanted, but since I am already connected at the retirement home, suggested he start there. And he is. He's playing the music for my Sunday morning service and also at another lady's Wednesday Bible study, and is doing other volunteering over there. Last week he played cards with the residents for an hour or so.
(2) How do you know if someone is a "true disciple": Well, I'd say that it's impossible to know for sure. I do think that God gives us some level of discernment, but ultimately we won't really know. I think the best measurement may be how they react to the gospel and its preaching. For example, I know a person who seems to be a Christian, is very interested in church things. We got to talking about sin and how many churches don't seem to want to talk about it nowadays. This person said something along the lines of their church talking about it too much. That made my ears prick up. Can you ever really talk too much about sin, given that in any church there will likely be a number of people who desperately need to understand their own sinfulness and hear the gospel? Somebody else complained about their sermons always presenting the gospel (sin, repentance, the cross, salvation). Does any true Christian/disciple get tired of hearing that message? I certainly don't.
However, my point was not really that we can know whether somebody is a true disciple, but rather whether we really preach the gospel so that they can become true disciples. We can talk about doing good things for other people and learn how to have a better sex life all day long, but unless we understand sin, repentance, and the cross, we and they are never going to become true disciples.
(3) Have you seen any elderly folk come to faith in Christ at their advanced ages? Not yet that I know of. There was one gentleman who I think God was drawing to Himself - his level of interest was certainly increasing, based on the questions he peppered me with weekly - but he passed away a few weeks ago. I can only pray that he heard and heeded the truth before he died. I figure if I'm faithful, if I'm there, God will draw those whom He wants. I may plant the seeds, water, or reap the fruits, but God gives the increase.