CONFERENCE THEME: “Every disciple…a disciple-maker!” Matthew 28.18-20
We all emphasize the Great Commission. We are Great Commission believers. We are Great Commission churches. We are Great Commission missionaries. The Great Commission is very straightforward and simple: “MAKE DISCIPLES”. Our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to make disciples for Him. A disciple is personally and whole-heartedly committed to obeying, following, and becoming like Him in every aspect of our lives.
But, our problem very often is that we try to delegate the real responsibility of ‘making disciples’ off onto someone else. Our churches here in the States will delegate and expect our missionaries abroad to make disciples while we neglect and fail to do so here. And, within our churches, many members will renege on the personal responsibility to make disciples and pass off that responsibility onto their pastors and leaders.
But, we must return to and reinforce the original intent and meaning of “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” – and that is, EVERY DISCIPLE MUST BE A DISCIPLE-MAKER. That means that most disciple-making will be done within the relationships that each of us maintains with other people. Most of our disciple-making will not be performed in the auditoriums of our churches, but rather in the personal interactions we have with others in our homes, in coffee-shops, in intentional encounters and interactions we have in our daily activities.
How did the first church in Jerusalem and the early churches in Judea, Samaria, and beyond – how did they make disciples? All of their disciples certainly were not made in their public corporate assemblies – though we are sure some were. But, their disciples were made as all the disciples went from place to place “talking the Word” as in Acts 8.4.
The making of other disciples must be the deliberate ministry of every disciple of Jesus Christ. Our churches should not only encourage every disciple to be a disciple-maker, but we should train our people to do so, and then create the occasions and environment where disciple-making will happen.
We live in a time and culture when “going to church” is no longer on people’s conscience or agenda. They don’t have a personal sense that they need to or ought to “go to church.” So, if we reach them at all, we must go to them – which was Jesus’ original command, anyway. “As you are going, make disciples of all the nations.” We must be “talking the Word” in all the places where we go…where they are…where we meet and encounter them. And, we must be calling everyone we talk with to “Follow Jesus” – be His disciple!
My own conviction for this urgent ministry was stoked a few months ago when I read a book that is currently available : Follow Me by David Platt. I would encourage everyone to get the book and read it. I was deeply convicted, challenged, and encouraged by Platt’s call for us to return to the mission that Jesus Himself fulfilled and then commanded us to repeat and perpetuate. Jesus’ call was – and still is – “Follow Me!” When Jesus commissioned us, “And you shall be My witnesses…,” He meant that each one of His disciples [followers] must accept and fulfill the responsibility to be calling all the others in the world to follow Jesus also.
“Every disciple…a disciple-maker!” is the essential ministry that will assure, not just the survival, but the health, growth, and effectiveness of our respective churches. “Every disciple…a disciple-maker!” is the essential key to the continuation and increase of our missionaries’ support. If we in our Stateside churches are not being Great Commission churches by making disciples, then we will decline and die, and there won’t be enough healthy, vibrant, effective churches to maintain our missionaries’ support – much less anticipate growth and increase of our missionary outreach.
So, let’s respond to the admonition our Lord sent to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2.5: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.”
Come and gather with us as we challenge and encourage one another to love and good works – and especially those good works of “Every disciple…a disciple-maker!”
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