Is your church making this kind of disciple? Are you?

It’s easier to make disciples to a cause or a culture than it is to Christ.  Helping people adapt to your religion is not the same thing as helping them follow Jesus.  If we want to make disciples who love and follow Jesus then we must become people who love and follow Jesus.

 

Is this what your church is doing?  Is this what you’re doing?

 

I want to be clear.  I’m not talking about making followers of your church, your religion, your religious culture, your religious cause, your religious practices or your pastor (or pastors).  I’m talking about being and helping one another be fully in love with and devoted to the person of Jesus Christ.  I’m not asking if you’re helping create or build people who please their pastor, their church or their denomination.  I’m asking if the people you are helping come to faith are people who learn to please Jesus. 

 

These are the kind of disciples we should be making.

 

In an earlier blog I ask the question, why aren’t we making this kind of disciples

 

Let me be clear again and please forgive my insistence on this.  Many people, if not most, reading this blog will assume they’re making or attempting to make these kinds of disciples.  You assume people visually practicing their faith like you practice your faith are fully devoted to Jesus.  If they belong to your church, assent to your beliefs and practices, adapt to your church culture, then they are following Jesus.  Good church members, whatever this means to you, makes them good disciples of Jesus Christ.  I must insist this is wrong thinking and keeps us from making the disciples Jesus commanded us to make.

 

Followers of Jesus Christ recognize his presence and authority in their lives.  They depend on him.  They do what he says.  They love.  They serve.  They are in him and walk with him.  They live by his indwelling life.  They want to please him even if it means displeasing the religious authorities.  They die to the applause of men and wait for his “well done”.  They die daily that he might live and have his rightful place.

 

Are these the kind of disciples you and your church are making?

 

Again, why don’t we make this kind of disciple?  Let me expand on something I wrote earlier.  I’ll share several reasons I believe we’re not making these kinds of disciples. I’ll do so over the next few blogs.

 

 The first reason, we have the wrong definition or description.

 

We think we’ve made a disciple to Jesus when:

  • They can “repeat after me”.  They begin to say what we say.  Our “thus saith the Lord” becomes their “thus saith the Lord”.
  • They adapt to our church culture.  Change their dress and habits to match ours.
  • They adopt our worldview.  They see things the way we see things.
  • They build up our little (or big) local expression of church.  They’re working hard to get others “through the doors”.
  • They parrot, praise and please the pastor.
  • They look for our approval and when they do what we say, we give it to them.

 

Look over the bullet points once more.  Are any of these our unspoken understanding of what it means to make a disciple of Jesus Christ?  If so, I believe we have the wrong idea.  If we start with the wrong idea we will NOT arrive at the right place.  If we have the wrong goal in mind, we will NOT make the right disciples.

 

We cannot be “at ease in Zion” when people around us need people who love and therefore follow Jesus.  We must not have the religious attitude “we are rich and have need of nothing”.  We cannot afford to continue to think we are getting it right when we are getting it so wrong.

 

Until next time.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill Wright, Jr. says:

    Brother I think you identified the PROBLEM with our “pursuit” of making disciples. Because we are commanded to “teach all things” Jesus commanded, it is very easy to think we are successful if they “follow” our system or our idea of what Jesus commanded.

    Questions:

    1) If we are commanded to “teach them all things” Jesus commanded (and we are), what will a true disciple of Jesus look like (in any culture)?
    2) How will a true follower of Jesus think (in any culture)?
    3) What does a true disciple of Jesus do (in any culture)?

    Keep it up! I am enjoying your thought provoking insights.

  2. Roger Thoman says:

    All true, all true, all true. Wonderful contrast between actually making disciples of Jesus vs disciples of a church or religious culture. Preach it!

  3. felicitydale says:

    We traditionally tend to make discipleship a body of knowledge to be learned, but I think that’s missing the point. Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Within the simple/organic church culture, we teach that there’s one major skill that a new disciple needs to learn–that of listening to Jesus–with the obvious corollary of responding to what he tells you. This involves more than just recognizing how he speaks through his Word, but also how he communicates with us in everyday life. It’s important that, as you say, Gary, we make disciples of Jesus rather than of ourselves or of our pastor or some other figure, and this is one way that helps.

  4. Kerry Stephenson says:

    Gary, I agree with you 100%. For the first time in my life I am a part of a church that is doing it right with the right motive. We want to do everything we can short of sin, to get as many people into heaven as possible. You have stirred my thinking about discipleship classes. If what you say is truly the definition of making disciples, and I believe it is, then I asked myself, “What is discipleship via bible study?” I’m thinking that would have to be teaching people what Jesus says He would do. Not a church list of rules. But helping them see “Him” in the Scriptures. If we are creating the right kind of Jesus followers, then we show them what He has said He would do, how He would act, how He would talk, how He would love, etc. They should be becoming more and more like Him. And then throw in the leadership of the Holy Spirit for all the gray areas. I need to do some more thinking, but this will help me be careful, as I lead in this area of our church ministries. Thanks. Look forward to more.

  5. Mike Prince says:

    I love your questions and think them to be the right questions to ask ourselves. While I am less than pleased with the results we are seeing, I believe that we are moving believers in the right direction. Some are getting it, some are struggling. What these questions teach me is that I need to know more about Jesus. If I am going to follow Jesus and teach others to do the same, I need to know which way Jesus went. I am somewhat encouraged by reading about another group of strugglers in the New Testament: Peter, James, John, Mark… Ultimately, they seemed to be learning more than the immediate evidence showed at times. Maybe it is the same with me and the group with whom I hang out. Thanks for the questions!

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