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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

making disciples

And Jesus came up and spoke to [the disciples], saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." -Matthew 28:18-20

Christians are disciples of Jesus Christ. If you have trusted in Jesus for salvation and committed yourself to following and obeying him, then you are his disciple! The last thing Jesus said to his disciples was the "Great Commission" quoted above from Matthew 28. What are we supposed to do as disciples? Most simply put, we are supposed to make MORE disciples. The rest of the Great Commission gives us the details…

We are to make disciples when and as we go. We are not to build up high walls around our church and shut out the world. We come here for shelter, for upbuilding, for worship, for support, and for mutual encouragement. We come here to be fortified and healed and equipped. But then we are to go back out again and again into the world to be salt and light for Jesus Christ. And as we go, we are to make disciples. That puts the responsibility on EACH of us to penetrate our own personal mission fields with the good news of Christ. Our personal mission fields are everywhere you go – the soccer field, the grocery store, Bank of America, school, your neighbor's living room, the uttermost parts of the earth… all of the above and more!

What is involved in making a disciple? Jesus highlights two crucial factors. We make disciples by bringing people into God's family through baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This involves sharing the Good News of salvation through evangelism; it involves drawing people into a church family through baptism; and it involves the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, we make disciples by teaching obedience and love of God. We do this through Christian education, Bible study, and through leading people to and through the Word of God.

Probably none of this is new to you… but here's where I am challenged by it. It is easy to become molded into the cultural consumer model of church. We'll offer quality teaching, leadership, and programs, and if anybody wants our "product" we will service them effectively. We may even do a little "advertising" locally for our product. And it's possible to grow a church that way.

But Jesus' model and mission for us is that the church, Session, and pastor equip and mobilize each of you as an army of disciples who are prepared and willing to go out into the world and multiply yourselves by making more disciples. That may or may not grow the local church (it probably will); but more importantly, that's how God grows His Kingdom!

Be encouraged by Jesus' promise – he is with us in all this! And be encouraged too – we are in this together, and there's no fellow-disciples I'd rather work with for God's glory than you!

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