Discipleship – Introduction
Let’s talk about discipleship. For the last 27 years of my life, I’ve noticed that the first thing I do when I get home is sit on the couch. It’s automatic, I can’t help myself. I sit on the couch. I take off my shoes and I turn on the TV. Moreover, if my mom would tell me to wash the dishes, or clean up my room, I would always put it off. I would take a mentality of “eventually it’ll get done”. So, whether it would get done by me or someone else, it didn’t bother me, all I cared about was being comfortable and not bothered.
Today, I have to be very intentional when I get home and make sure not to sit on the couch, especially if my wife is home waiting for me by the kitchen. She knows if I sit on the couch, she’s lost me. It’s pathetic, I know. Although not everyone may do this when they get home, one thing is certain, when we sit on couches nothing gets done.
Discipleship in America
To begin with, in America and in the entire Western Culture, we’ve adopted this mentality when it comes to Discipleship. In fact, most people that identify as Christians have had an approach to Christ that’s not seen in the Bible. I remember having a conversation with someone in my family that goes to church and I asked, “so who are you discipling?” he response I got, gave me chills “That’s the pastor’s job, I just go to church” was the reply.
I didn’t blame my family member for that. I knew immediately that as a church we had failed to equip and employ the members of the congregation to make disciples. Everyone that’s tasted the sweet saving Grace of God has been commissioned by Jesus Himself to make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Before Jesus had ascended into heaven he met with his disciples one last time and He said:
The Great Commission
18…“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
1. He establishes His Authority
What Jesus said in verse 18 is to remind us of his authority, much like our parents would establish their authority when we were kids by saying “Listen to me I’m your father and I’m in charge.” Parents do that to reassure that what they are going to say next is not optional, rather it is mandatory. Well Jesus is saying ALL the authority is His. How much more should we have to pay attention to that? I’d say a plethora of amounts more.
He knows that the disciples just experienced something amazing, they were astonished at the fact that the Living God had actually resurrected and was now with them, assuring them of their salvation, also. However, he wanted to make sure they didn’t acquire this “I’ll do it later, I’m hell insured, let me relax now, mentality.”
A closer look
But verse 19 is key. When he commissions the disciples, he doesn’t say, “Spread the word” like most Christians in the western world interpret that verse. He said “Go and Make Disciples” the action verb is “Make”, not “go”. Too many church attendees focus on the go part, and that’s where we adopt the club promoter mentality of inviting people to church. Don’t get me wrong, inviting people to be part of the church is important. I’ve always believed that great churches have a great invite culture. However, simply handing out invites at random, or saying in a comment “pssst…hey, Jesus loves you” and leave, isn’t categorized and disciple making.
2. He gives us clear steps
He gives us the clear steps of how to make disciples. In fact, if you notice clearly, you can see that Discipleship is intentional. (I’ll blog on baptism and teaching them to obey separately.) Jesus doesn’t want drive-by-evangelism, he wants intentional development of a follower of Christ.
When I was a kid I was given a bike as a gift for Christmas. I was so excited, finally I had a bike of my own! But at 5 years old, I had never ridden a bike in my life. My mom didn’t just say “Here you go, good luck!” and then disappeared from my life. Instead, she helped me learn how to use a bike, by being patient with me, showing me how to pedal, how to hold on to the handlebars, how to break. All this while holding me with my little training wheels. Until I was ready to ride alone, and then a few weeks later she taught me again without training wheels.
When we do drive-by-evangelism we are literally giving people the greatest gift in their lives and then because they don’t know how to use it, or even what it means, they simply just put it in their garages. Or worse, because no one was intentional, like the parable of the seeds in Mark 4, the troubles of this world come and end up abandoning the faith. (Obviously the parable is pertaining to our hearts being soil that the Lord prepares.) But are we not doing them a disservice by not being intentional with them and going the extra step?
3. The Solution
The solution to this problem is more than just handing out an invite card after someone confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior. Be intentional, ask for the person’s contact information, and follow up with the person. Express that you want to invest in that person’s life. Have a plan to meet the person within the next 48 hours and explain what the person just did. We are talking about something that doesn’t clique right away, even after confessing Jesus as Lord, I didn’t comprehend it until I actually started to explain it to someone else. This was a few weeks later from doing so, because the pastor at my church was so intentional in helping me understand what the Gift I had received was.
4. Conclusion & Action Steps
In conclusion, discipleship is not optional. Disciples don’t sit on couches, they take action. How are you going to take action this week?
Rather than being overly pumped after reading this (it happens to me) do this:
- SHORT TERM: Think of how you are going to get off your couch and start being intentional with 1 or 2 people this year (Yes, year!)
- LONG TERM: After discipling someone for a year, it will be time for that person to do that with someone else.
Grace and peace,
If you are involved with student ministry you should consider connecting with First Priority. It’s an organization dedicated to help churches reach public schools with the Gospel.