We make disciples
Disciple: a learner/follower of a particular teaching, lifestyle, or religion
We want to spend much of our time and energy in faithfulness to Jesus' commission. Jesus said, "All authority in heaven and earth belongs to Me, therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you, even to the end of the age." --Matthew 28:18-20
Individuals: Most of us have heard the word "discipleship" many times. But most of us have never been formally discipled. Sure, we've sat in church and attended some classes, but most of us have not had a person who intentionally pursued us to help us learn and grow as a follower of Christ.
Churches: Disciple-making, in many churches, is the "catch-all" category for everything the church does. But if everything is "discipleship" then nothing is. That is not what we mean by disciple-making. Pastors and lay persons are all disciple-makers. But many churches have leadership that focus all their time on strategy, marketing, the newest trend, or the novelty social media ploy that promises to draw the numbers in. The most common problem in these cases is a failure to truly make disciples and develop leaders through the church.
Discipleship needs these three elements:
Bible minus Relational Community and Missional Living = Self-Righteous People
What do our people need to know in order for them to be faithful to obey Jesus’ commands?
One church may focus on "Bible teaching" or "Bible study." And we need solid Biblical teaching along with Spirit-led Biblical convictions. But many people spend years sitting in classes gaining more head knowledge--but drop mission.
When people get in ruts of studying the Bible—but do it without relational, life-on-life, discipleship and without intentionally living missional lives it leads to self-righteousness, judgmental attitudes, and a Pharisaical atmospheres.
Relational Community minus Bible and Missional Living = Lost People
We want to love people with no strings attached. Many people are great at the relationship piece, but feel inadequate getting into intentional gospel conversations. If we build relationships and never share the gospel with them--we are lovingly walking them off a cliff of eternal separation from God.
Missional Living minus Bible and Relational Community = Project People
People are not projects. People have value, worth, and dignity. But they need hope, grace, and truth. Whether a person puts their faith in Christ or not--we are called to love them and serve for their good "considering others more significant than ourselves" (Philippians 2:3-5).
Jesus spent three years focused on sharing all of life with His twelve disciples. Jesus taught His disciples truth, loved them in their mess, and served them more than they realized at the time. Jesus gave His disciples God's word, God's love, and God's mission--through the church. He could have done so many things if He wanted to simply gather the largest numbers of people possible. He wanted followers who were not just entertained by His supernatural signs and miracles, but instead He wanted hearts that understood and appreciated Him for who He really was--the Savior of all mankind.