As we begin our new theme next week, I’d like to begin prepping us with the right mindset regarding how we approach our life in Christ.
The late Dallas Willard once remarked that true discipleship is “the great omission in the great commission on the part of churches.” Unfortunately, he’s right. Some churches focus lots on evangelism, but little on discipling those they have evangelized. At least they’re evangelizing. Most churches neither consistently evangelize nor disciple – they run programs. And you won’t find that prescribed in the Bible.
True followers of anyone (aka disciples) do what the person they’re following does. That’s what it means to follow. It means emulating and imitating another in healthy, essential, core ways. It means receiving a baton securely from the previous runner, running, and transferring that baton securely to the next runner. It means being a link in the chain that securely connects the links it’s connected to, not being a weak or broken link that compromises the whole chain.
In the midst of the strain, pressure, and pull being exerted on the “Christian chain” (the Christian faith through the generations), it’s not an easy task to be that kind of link. Yet, that’s the calling of each Christian – to receive and to pass on. It takes focus, resolve, purpose … and a plan. Remember, if we fail to plan, we are planning to fail.
“Before we go and MAKE disciples, we need to first BE disciples ourselves, for we cannot give what we do not have.”
We’ll be posting more thoughts on discipleship/mentoring in the coming weeks, but before we do, let’s start at the beginning. Before we emphasize Jesus’ “go and make disciples” mandate in Matt. 28, we need to apply things in order. Before we go and MAKE disciples, we need to first BE disciples ourselves, for we cannot give what we do not have. Before we can begin legitimately begin “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (v. 20), there must be a growing and active obedience in the life of the discipler. And that, I believe, is what keeps the church from doing more discipleship.
I believe that there are often “noble” intentions behind people not mentoring others in Christ. People are often not really being obedient to Christ in their own lives and thus, in their consciences, they know they are not able to rightly “teach them to obey all I have commanded you” and don’t want to be hypocritical nor do a poor job. And which one of us cannot identify with that sentiment? Of course we can. And it’s right in a sense. If we are not obeying Christ in our lives, we ought not to be mentoring people to follow and obey Christ.
But I don’t think the final solution is to therefore not disciple; rather, the answer ought to be to begin the hard and disciplined work of making the necessary adjustments in our lives to actually obey and worship the Christ in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
If that hits home with you, TD’er, and you want to begin to really follow Christ, please reach out to one of the leaders and we will begin to try to help you head in the right direction.
If that hits home with you, TD’er, and you want to begin to really follow Christ, please reach out to one of the leaders and we will begin to try to help you head in the right direction. And, who knows, you may very well find yourself discipling a younger believer to follow Christ in a few years, as you yourself are doing!
“18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “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.” Matt. 28:18-20