Here’s the fifth of ten propositions about church life and ministry (taken from the forthcoming Matthias Media title, The Trellis and the Vine). The others have been:
- Our goal is to make disciples not church members.
- Churches tend towards institutionalism as sparks fly upward.
- The heart of disciple-making is prayerful speaking of God’s word.
- All ministry has the goal of nurturing disciples, not just one-to-one discipling or mentoring.
- To be a disciple is to be a disciple-maker:
5. To be a disciple is to be a disciple-maker.
Jesus gave his disciples a vision for worldwide disciple-making. No corner of creation is off limits, and no disciple is exempt from the work.
We naturally shrink from the radical nature of this challenge. It replaces our comfortable, cosy vision of the ‘nice Christian life’ with a call for all Christians to devote their lives to making disciples of Jesus.
Disciple-making is a really useful word to summarize this radical call, because it encompasses both reaching out to non-Christians and encouraging fellow Christians to grow like Christ. As Matthew 28 says, to ‘make disciples’ includes teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. Disciple-making, then, refers to a massive range of relationships and conversations and activities—everything from preaching a sermon to teaching a Sunday school class; from chatting over the proverbial back fence with a non-Christian neighbour to writing an encouraging note to a Christian friend; from inviting a family member to hear the gospel at a church event to meeting one-to-one to study the Bible with a fellow Christian; from reading the Bible to your children to making a Christian comment over morning tea at the office.
In other words, walking in love as a disciple of Jesus inevitably means working for the evangelization, conversion, follow-up, growth to maturity and training of other people. And this happens (see Proposition 3) through prayerfully sharing God’s word with them whenever and however we can.