“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” -- Matthew 28:19 (NASB)
The first and most important reason we do mission work is, as believers, we are disciples of Christ and are called to carry the message of the Gospel forward.
For years my heart has been burdened for those who have not heard God’s Word, who don’t understand its transforming power and are suffering due to circumstances beyond their control. Having personally experienced God’s mercy, salvation, and the life-changing power of His Word, one of my greatest desires is to share that same love, mercy, and hope with others.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” God’s love is put into action when we love others. Whether in our own neighborhood or halfway around the world, we are commanded to love others and strive to meet their spiritual and physical needs.
When Christ gave the command to make disciples in Matthew 28:19, He made it clear that those whom He had instructed, were to “go” and make “disciples” of others. In the original Greek text, the word disciple refers to a pupil or learner, someone who adopts the distinctive teaching of their leader. Just as Christ’s first disciples were to train new disciples, we too, as followers and pupils of Christ are commanded to do the same thing – “go” and make “disciples” of others; a repetitive pattern that ultimately achieves Christ’s commanded goal – “make disciples of all nations.” Discipleship was a foundational aspect of Jesus’ historical ministry and must be a foundational aspect of our ministry today.
“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” -- 2 Timothy 2:2 (NASB)
Paul took Jesus’ command to heart when he modeled the principle of discipleship in his instructions to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2. Paul understood the command to teach and train others. The teaching he gave Timothy, was to be passed on to other faithful men who would then also be qualified to teach others.
If we are to be obedient to Christ’s command, we must implement the necessary components of discipleship; components Christ and His faithful followers modeled throughout biblical accounts.
Discipleship, as illustrated by Christ and His disciples, consisted of four primary components:
- Teach God’s Word,
- Develop Relationships,
- Minister to the needs of followers,
- Equip and Train future teachers.
Let's look at those.
- Teach God’s Word — A disciple is taught to “sew the Word,” realizing some who hear will fall away – while others will hear, accept, and in turn, bear fruit (Mark 4:14-20).
- Develop Relationships — A disciple is taught to “develop and nurture relationships” with pupils by spending quality time with them (John 3:22).
- Minister to the Needs of Followers — A disciple is taught to “minister” to followers by caring for their needs. (Matthew 25:35-40)
- Equip and Train Future Leaders — A disciple is taught to “equip followers” by teaching them to become teachers (Luke 6:40).
What kind of impact could we have?
Keith Piper illustrates the impact we could possibly have through intentional discipleship. If we invest in others, train, and encourage them to do the same – the number of people prepared to disciple others could be in the billions.
Keith’s chart suggests “if we train just 1 person every year for 20 years, we personally will have trained only 20 people, but if we train them to train others, our network will have won and trained 1 million in that 20 year period. Therefore, if we desire to leave a lasting legacy that will impact the kingdom for generations to come, we must be more than teachers – we must be true disciple makers – multipliers.
Are you willing to intentionally invest in the next generation of leaders?
Take some time to reflect on your life, take out a blank piece of paper, and answer the following questions:
- List the names of people you currently disciple. Next list the names of people you are willing to invite into a discipleship relationship.
- List the name or names of people who currently disciple you (it’s important to continually be spiritually fed at the same time you feed others). Next list the name or names of people you will ask to disciple you.
- Describe which of the four primary components of discipleship you are consistently incorporating with those you disciple and with those who disciple you. Explain how you have benefited from these attributes and/or what you feel you may be missing and need to incorporate.
- Set measurable goals in your discipleship relationships and implement a plan of action.
How are you currently supporting Christian missions and how do you plan to support Christian missions in the future?
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