You may have noticed that there is a renewed emphasis on making disciples at MERCYhouse. We’ve always been about this in theory but we struggled to put that theory into practice. This is true of most Bible teaching churches in the US. They preach and teach about how everyone should be a disciple maker and then everyone goes home and keeps living their lives in much the same way as their non Christian neighbors - going to work and school, making meals, raising kids, watching a show, and enjoying a restful weekend now and again.
For many Christians it feels very difficult to do all those things mentioned above plus a Sunday service and weekly small group. Add a daily devotional and some generous giving and you’ve just overloaded the whole system. You begin to feel like you are doing more than your fair share, but then you read the Bible and you come across verses like this:
This is an awe inspiring passage. An invitation to join Jesus in a world wide mission of making disciples (aka followers of Jesus). Disciples that make disciples that make disciples. A movement that ends up catalyzing the reaching of people from every nation resulting in a God glorifying church who will spend eternity enjoying the infinite goodness and glory of God. Let’s GO!!!
So why haven’t we done much of this? I think there are at least three reasons:
1. We don’t care
Everything we do starts with motivation. The things we do and don’t do. The things we say and don’t say. All of these are driven by something. It may be fear or love or guilt, but whatever it is will drive us into action or inaction. Some of us just don’t care (lack motivation) about making disciples and we need to confess this to our Savior and then submit to him as King. It’s a sin to not care about the things that God cares about. If Jesus has commissioned us to care about discipleship in our communities and beyond and we don’t that’s on us. We need to confess that apathy and ask for his forgiveness and transformation. Before Jesus gives the mandate to make disciples in Matthew 28 he reminds them of this:
He’s saying this to let us know he has all the resources in both the seen and unseen world to carry out this mission of making disciples. He’s also saying this to remind us that he is King. We respond to Jesus’ saving work by submitting to him as our King and that submission includes disciple making.
2. We don’t know how
The second reason we might not be making disciples is that we don’t know where to start. I’ve assumed that many of our members are in this category - desiring to follow King Jesus and his mandate but not knowing what to do in order to make a disciple. This is why we’ve tried to put together a simple path that people can follow to both be established as disciples but also to participate in the establishing of others in Christian belief and spiritual practice. This is what discipleship groups are all about. These groups meet for 10 weeks (out of a 16 week semester) and are made up of 4-5 people. Everyone in the group uses a workbook called Discipleship Essentials. These groups are designed to provide an environment of transparency, accountability, and learning. You can sign up to join a group HERE or if you’ve already participated in a group you can sign up to help lead HERE.
3. We don’t feel like we have time
I suspect that the major reason most Christians don’t participate in disciple making is because they feel like they are already in a deficit when it comes to time and energy. They’ve given all of their available resources to their work, school, friends, and family. They might even justify their lack of involvement in making disciples of Jesus by saying that they are discipling their kids (which is very important by the way!) or that they periodically tell their co-workers that they go to church. Something tells me that this is not all that Jesus had in mind when he commissioned us to make disciples of all nations. I’m also pretty sure he knew that this all needed to get done in the midst of a busy life. There are no disclaimers to his command. He didn’t say go make disciples unless you are a busy mom or you have a challenging job or you have a crazy schedule. Here’s what he did say:
The King who has all authority says that he is with us. He is with us as we seek to obey his command to go and make disciples. This Sunday you’ll actually hear from some busy people in our church who took Jesus up on his offer to sustain them in the making of disciples, in spite of a busy life. You’ll never guess what Jesus did? He made good on his promise and sustained them in all parts of their lives as they made room for this very important obedience.
I’ve found that helping others find and follow Jesus is actually something that Jesus uses to infuse my life with joy and strength instead of adding to the deficit. When you join God in the mission that he is already on, you experience his presence in ways that you never had before. Ways that you will never experience if you make your Christian life all about you and yours. Will there be hard days? Yes. Will there be challenges all along the way? Yes. But the overall result will be obedience to your King and that is always the place of greatest life in the Kingdom of God. So let’s GO!!! and make some disciples.