Yes, You Can Make a Disciple!
I confess! It’s my fault. Not mine alone mind you, but not less than mine, I’ve blown it! I’ve failed to teach the whole thing. Yep, on behalf of all preachers everywhere I admit that in our zeal and passion to convince people to live more evangelistic lifestyles we’ve forgotten to preach and teach the whole of the Great Commission. I don’t exactly know when or where it happened, but clearly it did, we shifted our focus on the Great Commission from ‘making disciples’ to ‘making converts.’ And, frankly, we now struggle to do either. I applaud and welcome those movements and teachers among us that are calling us to focus on disciple making. I do hope that in our renewed focus on discipleship that don’t forget our evangelistic mandate; after all, the temptation will always be to focus inward and forget to focus outward. There’s a balance needed there.
So in our church we’ve been focusing on the Great Commission this month, and it’s been very challenging, not the least to me personally. I’ve wrestled with how I’m doing living a Great Commission life. I don’t think I measure up very well. Do any of us? Our Challenge is that we become overwhelmed with the thought of making disciples, or we think “there’s no way someone like me could help make a disciple of Jesus,” or “it’s just too complicated,” or “I don’t know enough.” And, sometimes, maybe often, we subconsciously think “isn’t that the job of the pastor and church staff?” No, the job of disciple making falls to all who are disciples of Jesus. All of us. Without exception. We are all under the commission of Jesus to make disciples of Jesus. So, that probably leads to a question, ‘how?’
There are an amazing amount of resources on disciple making. A great number of theories and strategies and programs, all promising to help us make disciples. There are even entire academic programs to educate us in the process. And all of that is helpful. But, if you’re like me, then all that can be a little overwhelming. So let’s think simple here for a moment, maybe just five principles to get started, with a strong disclaimer, nobody will suddenly become a full-on mature disciple of Jesus in five easy principles! But I do believe these five principles can help get us started on the journey.
1. Invite someone to have cup of coffee. Spend the time sharing the difference Jesus is making in your life. Listen well to their story. Pray together.
2. Focus first on how to live the Christian life. We often mistake knowing for living, we assume that if we know a lot about Jesus then we are a disciple, this isn’t necessarily the case. Focus first on the living and the knowing can come along the way.
3. Ask a lot of good questions. And don’t allow yourself, or the person you are discipling, to settle for the easy answers. Do the hard work of searching the Scriptures together rather than throwing out another Christian cliche answer.
4. Don’t rush to resolve the tension of doubt. Rather allow the doubt to compel people to a deeper relationship with Jesus. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is often the doorway to deeper faith.
5. Encourage life in Christian community. Help them find a community of people who are on the same journey. Find people who will love and encourage them along this discipleship path. Seek Jesus together.
This clearly isn’t all there is to making disciples, but these five principles are a great starting place. So, what’s keeping you from getting started? What’s holding you back from living the Great Commission life? And, what principles would you add to these five?
Grace and Peace, Rich