I wish I could say that disciple-making is an emerging trend in the church today, but I don’t think it really is.
It is really not that complicated. Think about what the last words that Jesus proclaimed while walking on the earth before his ascension into heaven. Would it be unreasonable to assume that someone’s last words before departing would carry some level of significance and importance? Jesus commissioned us, the church, to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES.
The Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (New King James Version)
Regardless, it may be the most important hole in American Christianity from a biblical point of view. The effects of this hole, can result in more people moving away from the Faith given to us from God’s word. The void gets filled with whatever the latest trends are spreading within the church. Unfortunately, we are usually not talking about replacing one aspect of our faith with a different aspect of our faith. Rather, many in the church today seek out something that is NEW, AUTHENTIC, BOLD, ATTRACTIVE TO THE YOUTH,….etc. Descriptions used to describe these include words such as MISSIONAL, INCARNATIONAl….etc. In some cases, people/churches don’t even teach, train, participate…etc. in discipling others.
In Alliance Life magazine, C&MA Pastor John Soper wrote an important article on Disciplemaking.
It is good to see a focus on one of the most important aspects of our faith – yet one that gets overlooked by the church – many times nonintentionally because it is assumed to be taking place by church activities such as sitting in on a Sunday sermon. But, that doesn’t provide all of the educational teaching aspects of learning to live out your faith as well as the mentoring relationship with engaging in your Christian walk with other Christians.
Unfortunately, there are also intentional reasons that groups today either manipulate core principles of discipleship to fit their own contemporary perceived view of what they think Christians “should” be doing today. New words, new descriptions, new catchphrases, new fads…etc. sweep through the church such as “missional” and “incarnational” – commonly echoed in Liberal, Progressive and Emerging Church groups. The focus goes from being a biblically based approach to growing in the faith to a glorified social program out in a community and away from the church.
Pastor Soper his on several key aspects of discipleship and how the leadership in the church can take key steps to follow through – in some cases, they need to change their focus back to what is simply stated in Scripture. That can be difficult to do for some today with all of the Mega Church growth strategies, techniques and practices to reach the Millenials, being missional…..etc.
Soper’s points are well stated –
“There are other tools that God uses to shape our lives—special experiences that He sovereignly brings into our lives and people who arrive at just the right moment with just the right message—but the primary tools the Holy Spirit uses to shape and form us are the Word of God and prayer.
My primary role as a disciplemaker is then to get men and women into the Word of God—the supernatural Word that is “living and active [and] sharper than any double–edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). I firmly believe that when men and women engage the Word of God with open hearts and open minds, it always changes them.
My primary goal as a disciplemaking pastor will always be to get my people into the Word of God. Then I can count on the Holy Spirit to do something supernatural in them. There is more to being a fully devoted follower of Christ than simply knowing what the Bible says, but until men and women read and learn the Scripture for themselves, they can never become mature disciples.”