NOTE: An earlier published version of this post mysteriously disappeared, without a trace, from my blog. It is now in the internet ether somewhere, never to be heard from again.
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I ame with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus’ words, known to most Christians as “The Great Commission,” are not simply an add-on to the life of a follower of Christ. They are — and should be — an integral part of who we are as believers. That being said, what does it mean to be a “disciple” or, more specifically, what does “making disciples” look like?
Those are both important questions, but ones not necessarily with easy answers. After spending four hours last Tuesday evening in a meeting with Baptist Convention of New Mexico Executive Director Dr. Joe Bunce and 40 other New Mexico Baptist Pastors and Ministers, we came to the realization that making disciples is easier said than done. That’s not because we don’t know that churches, including every believer that belongs to the local New Testament church, is given the task laid out in Matthew 28 (and Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:45-49; John 20:21-23; and Acts 1:8). It’s because most churches — including the one I pastor, Bethel Baptist in Alamogordo — do not have an intentional process to make disciples who are growing and reproducing.
What does that process look like? After hours of dialogue in both large and small groups last Tuesday, there was no consensus as to exactly all that should be involved in the disciplemaking process. (For the record, I did not misspell “disciplemaking.” That’s how we were “instructed” to spell it.) However, we did come away with three areas of strong agreement:
- It is a challenge to define “disciplemaking” or “disciple” in the local church.
- The pastor must take leadership in the disciplemaking process.
- The transition to a disciplemaking church and the disciplemaking process itself will be long. There are no short-cuts.
As we came away from our meeting in Albuquerque, each of the participants was refocused on THE ONE FOCUS of our churches — “A Disciplemaking Church for Every Person!” In a convention of churches as diverse as the BCNM or the SBC, the disciplemaking process that our church implements will look different from the process in other churches. Some churches will be more programmatic while others will be more organic. However, we must be intentional about the discipemaking process.
Is your church a disciplemaking church? Are you a disciplemaking Christian? What does the disciplemaking process look like where you are? These are all important questions, but if we do not do something with them, we will continue to wonder why the Church is not having an impact upon culture. “Go and make disciples!”