I have returned officially from my sabbatical, and there is just so much that is penned up inside that I want to / need to get out, but in due time.
I studied the church, not TRC alone as a local fellowship of the church, but the church, the body Jesus is constructing that manifests as a local church, while out. I rested…which is hard for me. Rest really looked like refocusing my efforts on study and physical activity not just sitting. I can’t just sit. Not made for that.
Through refocused efforts and study on the church, discipleship kept emerging as a theme.
Whatever definition folks give discipleship, and we have defined it for our church and for how we engage in training church planters with Glocal Net, I didn’t get it as a young Christian. When I followed Jesus at the age of 20, I had wise men and women give me counsel. I had good bible teaching. But no one invited me to come spend time with them on their schedule and learn to follow Jesus.
Why is this important? Because Jesus said to “make disciples”. In order to do that, we need to know what a disciple is, be one, and then show and tell others.
Jesus said to baptize them and then teach them to observe all he commanded them to observe.
So, discipleship requires us to tell someone about Jesus and his kingdom, see them repent and believe, baptize them, then teach them to obey what he said.
So, what is discipleship? Discipleship is learning to follow Jesus’ teaching. How do we do that? We need to be able to hear Jesus’ teaching and then learn to obey Jesus’ teaching.
Repent. Believe. Be baptized. Hear. Obey.
I think we got the repent/believe/baptize part down. But what about hearing Jesus and obeying Jesus?
No one taught me how to read the bible. No one taught me how study correctly. No one taught me how to relate to the Holy Spirit. No one taught me what obedience looked like.
I learned to read my bible by simply doing it, and the tools of proper reading developed as I was in college, read a book or two on the issue, and then keep doing it. Obedience lacked. I knew what was in there, and wanted to learn more, but I didn’t always do what was asked. It was easier to just attend another bible study or read another book. I could feel this tug of a thought that was like, “Hey, go practice that.”, but I was afraid of what others may think. Jesus’ stuff seemed crazy radical. Didn’t want to be that fanatic!
What was lacking? Someone to show me.
I recently ran across this statement from a friend of mine who got it from someone else: “You don’t have to add something else to your calendar to mentor or disciple someone, you simply have to add someone else to what’s already on your calendar.”
That little sentence is huge.
One person can’t disciple a whole church, but they can disciple one or two at a time. Each one of them can imitate the example set for them. If each in the church does this, then the whole church will be discipled and growing with new followers of Jesus. Imagien that!
Jesus had 12, one defector, and a bunch of criticism from others. I suppose we could shoot for 12, but maybe start out crawling not running. Jesus is God after all.
The idea of simply inviting someone into my already functioning schedule helped me to realize that this is not an extra task, but it is in fact simply including someone into your alreay established routine. If I’m following Jesus, guess what my new friend will learn? How to follow Jesus.
Bob Roberts used to tell me this all the time, but it didn’t land until I read the above statement. Sorry Bob! Bob would tell me to not give my time to people who just wanted me to know them. Rather, give my time to people would follow with me as I followed Jesus. He would say the litmus test of their seriousness is if they’ll meet you on your already full schedule. He was / is so right!!!
So, do this if you want to make disciples:
1. Have a plan on how you hear God…Read your bible regularly.
2. Practice listening to God the Holy Spirit through the word.
3. Practice instant obedience.
4 Keep a calendar of your time.
5. Invite a someone not a Christian and/or someone who is and needs to grow up in Christ to come join you on your time. Show them how to follow Jesus while doing normal life.
6. Demand they imitate your example.
Relationships are key. We can’t disciple by inviting people to come to our worship services with us. We need to invite people to our services. That’s not bad, but it’s not enough.
Greg Cater invited me into his family and taught me ministry early on, and most of my pastoral habits were set by Greg’s example. That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
Bob Roberts invited me into his life, and keeps me in his life now and models apostolic global kingdom work, and that has been the most amazing ongoing discipling experience in my life.
So, go and begin making some disciples.
I understand disciple making is thicker and stickier than I presented it here today, but this is a good start. We have to start somewhere. As people follow Jesus discipling gets messy, but we can handle that. We have a Manual! So, let’s go get some!
Here is an article I read this morning by Jeff Christopherson on disciple making. Good stuff. I hope you’ll give it a read.