Disciple-Making Churches

Have you ever tried to assemble a piece of furniture without the instructions? How about attempting to complete a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle without the box cover? It is possible but the time required expands to accompany the frustration experienced.

Church leaders may well attempt to lead their congregations forward without a clear reference to the ‘operating manual’ provided through the Holy Spirit’s breathing on the original authors of Scripture.

The well worn expression, ‘Great Commission,’ clearly mandates ‘disciple-making.’ This is not an optional extra but the explicit instruction of the Great Shepherd of the flock, who opts to delegate this key task to those who themselves are followers.

In a recent one week overview of the convictions and challenges of Church Revitalization (May 7-11), several of the professors drew our attention to Matthew 28:18-20.

The Authority Over The Nations

Christ has died, been buried and triumphantly risen again. In the shadow of the cross and the backdrop of the empty tomb, Jesus asserts his rightful authority in heaven and on earth. Biblically literate readers will recall the invitation of God the Father to his anointed Son in Psalm 2:8 “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.” Certainly Matthew 28 indicates the time for this fulfilled promise to move to its fulfillment has come.

The Mandate of Disciple-Making

At least two of our professors during our recent course reminded us of the imperative—the only command actually explicitly stated in this text. “Make disciples.” These eleven men who heard this instruction had been and continued to me disciples, learners from the greatest Master the world had ever seen. They were called to make others what they were already. With the empowerment of the Spirit, they would lead a world-wide conquest for the King and extend the invitation to experience the joys and wonders of the kingdom of heaven. The Sermon on the Mount now would be applied as the ‘poor in spirit,’ etc would experience the blessing promised in Matthew 5-7.

The Process of Disciple-Making

Going. Baptizing. Teaching. These simple participles shape us in the process we are to follow. We cannot stay. Like William Carey, who in the late 1700s felt the imperative of the call to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, we too must go. Those who R.S.V.P. with faith to the gospel invitation are to be baptized, publicly declaring their identification with their new found Lord in his death, burial and resurrection. And then the instruction begins. Not teaching to KNOW, but teaching to OBEY all that Jesus commanded. That process will take a lifetime as we put into practice in full obedience the directives set forward by the Commander-in-Chief of the mission.

We will explore resources and evaluate their usefulness in local church settings in this area of the website. Several churches have already made use of Dr. Dann Spader’s instructive ‘4 Chair Discipleship’ model. We intend to interview and evaluate with current pastoral leaders the insights they are gaining in their particular context of this biblical imperative.

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