Gary Derbyshire

6 Ways to Make Disciples From Home

Gary Derbyshire
May 8, 2020

Since the global upheaval caused by COVID-19 started, we have all been placed in some form of less than ideal situations. For me, preaching to an empty room is not the best. For all of us, having to distance ourselves from all our friends and family has been very difficult. Some have had very few safe opportunities to go to the grocery store or the doctor’s office. Some have had surgeries and procedures postponed.  Even worse, some of us have lost jobs and income.

As events due to this pandemic continue to unfold, the biggest thing the Lord is reminding me of is the necessity to proclaim the gospel in good times and bad (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Jesus' last command to His disciples before ascending to the right hand of the Father was to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18). I don't think that changes with a pandemic. Therefore, here are six ways to make disciples from home:

#1 Invite unchurched people to watch your church's sermons online.

Online church is not real church. Let me just say that. However, it has its advantages. Your pastor's online sermon is more accessible to those outside your church walls than ever. A lot of people are thinking about God right now and are far more likely to respond to a personal invitation from someone they know than go browsing for a church website. Even if they would, would you want them to?

#2 Invite people to discuss the sermon with you over the phone or video conference.

My church has its own discussion guide at the end of its sermon handouts online for this exact reason, but you can do this your own way. If someone takes you up on your offer to watch a sermon, don't leave them hanging. Just because your pastor is a good preacher doesn't mean your non-Christian friend will understand. Discussing and meditating on the Word in small groups or one-on-one is what separates a show from discipleship.

#3 Invite someone to start a Bible reading plan with you.

Many of us have more time on our hands than we know what to do with right now. Even if you don't, this is a necessary discipline for all Christians. Find a family member or friend and ask if they would join you in a Bible reading plan and agree to discuss it with you once a week over the phone or video call. Even non-Christians will sometimes take you up on this. Don't be shy. Invite all kinds of people.

#4 Ask people if you can text or email them daily insights from your Bible reading.

Even if no one takes you up on the Bible reading plan or even watching the sermon, they take you up on this. It can take some of the pressure off of them and simultaneously keep you accountable. This is always good to do with a mentor as well for actual accountability. Tip: Don't be that guy and send a group text to all these people. Make it personal and text or email each person separately. That way they can respond and not text everyone else at the same time.

#5 Write letters.

Yeah, paper and stamps still work! Write encouraging, gospel-saturated letters to the sick, the isolated, and the struggling. This could mean the lady down the street whose husband is in the hospital. This could mean people who cannot safely leave their front porch because of their vulnerability. It could mean the mother of four forced into homeschooling almost overnight. Contacting isolated people in a time of need is a great way to open a door for the gospel. John the apostle was in prison on an island and wrote the book of Revelation. Paul was under house arrest and wrote almost half the New Testament. Martin Luther was isolated in a castle for almost a year and translated the New Testament into German, among many other things. Clearly, it's possible to be productive for Jesus with just paper and ink.

#6 Ask a healthcare worker if you could text them daily prayers.

Some families are having to go through extreme difficulties if a mom or dad works in a medical facility or as a first responder. In some cases, kids with preexisting conditions cannot even be in the same room as their parent while he/she works during this time. Offering to text a prayer to a nurse or a paramedic, for example, could be a big blessing to them regardless of their spiritual background and a daily reminder that there is a God who loves them. It may even lead to some gospel conversations. Tip: Give them a set length of time for your prayers, like 30 days or a week. If they want you to continue, great. If they don't, that's ok too. You may actually get more non-Christians to say yes if you have end date in mind. It's assurance for them they didn't just get into something for life.


In a time when most of us are sequestered at home, we need to stay connected to the Lord and active in the world He placed us in. Difficult times do not create ungodly priorities, they put them on display. Hard circumstances don't make you a poor disciple maker, they simply put your discipleship skills to the test. Trust me, if you can work from home, you can make disciples from home. It may not be as productive or as easy as before, but it's still very much possible and very much God's will. I promise you there is no bad time to obey Jesus.

Gary Derbyshire

Gary is the Senior Pastor of Apollo Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. Gary's biggest life influence is his loving parents, who originally taught him the Gospel and biblical exposition, and still live as missionaries in Asia. The next biggest influence is his loving wife, a gifted worship leader and evangelist to their children.

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Gary Derbyshire