"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
Is this a command, or a suggestion; does it mean we are just to evangelize and let people find their faith on their own, or does this mean we are to lead others and teach the precepts of the Scriptures and the character of our Lord? Does it require obedience and action on our part, or are we disciples just by being a Christian and being in a church on Sundays?
In last week's newsletter, we began to read an article by Richard Joseph Krejcir--see info about him at the end of this article. This week we are continuing on with his article.
This is perhaps the chief characteristic that most churches somehow forget. It is also the quintessential aspect and reason the church exists. So, why is it that so few churches actually have disciple making as a primary ministry? For most churches, it is something they think they are already doing when in fact they are not. Saying that going to church on Sunday is discipleship, or providing a couple of token adult Sunday school classes that few attend, is not discipleship. Some churches throw it in as an afterthought, or may offer a class or something related to the subject.
The effective church is mentoring, building relationships, and teaching each of the members by other, caring people, who are being discipled themselves, who are being taught, encouraged, and led. The death of a church happens when we follow political trends, not the national politics, but the patriarchal personalities that want to control people. In addition, when we have a controlling attitude, we do not allow God to control us, thus, we become empty shells and hollow logs. Being hollow means there is nothing working within us, there is no Creator of the universe leading and directing our ways, so, we become worthless to the Kingdom of God.
Making disciples takes vision and the understanding of Scripture. It gives the church a purpose to forms leaders who grow other leaders in an outgrowth of their growth. The Christian, especially the leader, who disciples and equips others is a person who is living the faith for themselves and setting goals for their personal growth before they set goals for others. Their skills and abilities are growing them to be a better worker because first, they are striving to be a better child of God.
From the character of Christ will come the conduct of Christ, if we chose to follow Him. Then, those values of our daily walk, which drive our behaviors, will, in turn, influence others. You cannot lead where you have not been, or where you do not know the direction to go. This is why discipleship is so essential to the aspect of being a Christian. We are called, not to just visualize discipleship, but to do it; not to just talk about it, but to do it. One cannot just think about dinner and satisfy hunger; the meal has to be prepared, then eaten! The effective church will take Scripture and the call of our Lord seriously, and then implement it into functioning!
Jesus' purpose for His three years of earthly ministry was the discipleship and equipping of the 12 Disciples. This was His drive and where most of His time was spent. He was focused on the teaching of the kingdom of God, teaching men to see beyond their present situation to the life to come. With His teaching, Jesus entrusted His church and people to the care of the people He taught. They were to replicate themselves to others. The objective was that every Believer was an equipper, every member a minister, every Christian involved in the life and gifts of the Body to influence the world.
The Word must touch who we are, and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms. One cannot lead where he does not know the way, and to know the way you must have knowledge. Knowledge comes from experience, and experience comes from discipleship. The will of God is for us to study His Word, which will change our behaviors. A Christian and especially a leader in the church must have the knowledge and experience to put into practice the work that needs to be done. The disciple will be studious so that the Word nourishes him. He must study and apply the Scriptures, not just read it occasionally like a novel. The Word must touch who we are and transform the very core of our being. This is the knowledge that leads and transforms.
So, what are we to do?
God does not ask us to seek converts, He simply asks us to do Discipleship. Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible-mainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, and worship. Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call! When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We obey and reach, but we cannot lead people anywhere. He is the One who leads!
Next week, we will look into the three main areas or principles in discipleship:
1. Relationships and Mentoring
About the author...
Richard Joseph Krejcir lives in Southern California. He committed to prayer, spiritual growth, and integrity. He is the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, a missions and discipling ministry, with a call upon his heart to bring discipleship materials to pastors and everyone who needs them here and overseas. He is the author of numerous articles, curriculums and the book, Into Thy Word, and is also an ordained pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California (Master of Divinity) and holds a Ph.D. (Practical Theology) from London. He has amounted over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant.
Dr. Krejcir has been teaching inductive Bible study principles at camps, conferences and churches all over the world since 1978. He does this to give people opportunities and tools so they can learn how to gain those life-impacting insights from the Bible. Richard has been personally discipled by some of Christendom's greatest thinkers and leaders, including his uncle Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, others such as Dr. Walter Martin, Chuck Miller, Ralph Winter, and Robert Boyd Munger have personally mentored him, as well as other great and godly men. His main influencers have been Schaeffer as well as Oswald Chambers and Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Richard has learned and remains committed to teaching people how to find the time for Christ, how to be His disciple, and how to understand His Word better.