Monday, February 24, 2014

Making Disciples Who Make Disciples

I wrote the following article for the weekly electronic newsletter of my church, Cornerstone Church in Easton, Pa., where I serve as church chairman and head elder.

The American evangelical church has had no shortage of movements and fads in recent years, from “seeker sensitive” to “purpose driven” to “missional.” At the annual joint board retreat last month, we focused on a direction that we hope will become an integral part of how we carry out Jesus’ mission at Cornerstone: discipleship.

Discipleship is far beyond a flavor of the month—it’s what Jesus called us to do in the Great Commission, His last recorded words before ascending into heaven.

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 28:19-20

Notice that Jesus didn’t say to make Christians of all the nations. It’s not our call to just share the Gospel and move on to the next person. It’s to make disciples. A disciple is someone who:

  • knows and follows Christ
  • is changed by Christ
  • is committed to Christ’s mission

Making disciples involves teaching others the disciplines of the faith and helping them mature as followers of Jesus. This requires a relationship. It means sharing our lives with others and showing them what we’ve learned about reading and applying the Bible, prayer, servanthood, and so on.

But our job doesn’t end there. We need to help others become true disciples—those who will make other disciples. Jesus taught His disciples the gospel, showed them how to share it, then assigned them to preach the Gospel themselves. The teaching method in discipleship, as outlined by Dave and Jon Ferguson in the book Exponential, goes something like this:

I do. You watch. We talk.
I do. You help. We talk.
You do. I help. We talk.
You do. I watch. We talk.
You do. Someone else watches…

I’m excited about this direction! It’s a process of multiplication that we believe will result in many more Christians being:

filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Colossians 1:9b-10

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